Eagles Items From Indy

Posted: February 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 205 Comments »

This is NFL Scouting Combine week. That means every coach, GM, agent and NFL writer/reporter has descended upon the lovely city of Indianapolis. And it is story time.

The Bears like Jay Cutler, but they’re talking to QB Josh McCown. The Cardinals worked out a deal with Larry Fitzgerald so he can stay in the desert for 2 more years. The Browns aren’t committing to Johnny Manziel as their starter for 2015. And so on.

There wasn’t any hard-hitting Eagles news, but there are some items worth mentioning.

The Eagles don’t have anyone scheduled to meet the press. The Eagles writers sought out Andy Reid to get his take on the front office shake-up. Big Red offered his thoughts.

“Listen, I’m a big Howie fan, I’m a big Chip fan,” Reid said. “It looks like everybody’s happy, which is important, and in good positions. Nobody was released. That’s a positive. And whatever they’ve done, they feel they’ve done what’s best for the Eagles.”

Saying that everybody is happy is probably stretching things a bit. I doubt Howie is on cloud nine right now. But we should all be so lucky to be suffering the way he is…with job security and a big salary.

This is still different than having someone out on the street and ripping the team and keeping a negative story line rolling along. I don’t know if you can fully say there is closure, but there is some semblance of peace.

Reid also talked about Ed Marynowitz.

“Just a sharp guy,” said Reid, who is now head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. “Good evaluator. He’d tell you a good player from a bad player. Stays one step ahead of it. Could look into the future on things. I think he’s going to do a great job there.”

“Remember at Alabama, they had full trust in him,” Reid said. “Nick didn’t want to lose him.”

Nothing groundbreaking there, but always interesting to hear what someone like Reid has to say.

* * * * *

The Bucs have the #1 pick and did some talking about that. Jimmy Bama has the details.

“We have over two months yet,” explained Licht, “so it would be a little ridiculous to come out and say, ‘Well, this is who we want right now.’ We want to use every avenue that we have, every resource that we have in the next two months to make the final decision. But it would be an insult to sit here after two rounds of Draft meetings and watching every play of Lovie and I, or Jon Robinson, our personnel director, Mike Biehl, our college scouting [director], all of our scouts, to watch every play and say that, ‘Okay, we have two guys tied at the top.’ We have a favorite, but we want to let the process play out.”

So they have a favorite right now, but want to let the process play out. Who might the favorite be?

Jimmy highlighted an interesting comment from Coach Lovie Smith.

“We need a quarterback that can throw the ball and make a variety of throws, we need a leader, a guy who makes great decisions. We’d like to have a guy who is mobile in the pocket.”

Like vs need.

The first two sound more like Winston than Mariota.

Check out what draft analyst Rob Rang had to say after hearing from the Bucs brass.

“I feel more confident than ever that the No. 1 overall pick is Winston’s to lose.”

Wow. That’s pretty strong.

I still lean the other way. Lovie Smith said he was okay with Winston’s character issues since the legal system had run its course with the rape allegation and no charges had been filed, but you wonder how much of that is Smith trying to say the right thing and Smith truly believing that.

There is no doubting that Winston is very talented and could turn out to be a great NFL QB, but I still question his maturity. He was a good college leader, but are grown men going to put up with any of his stupidity?

I’d love to be wrong since it would help the Eagles to have any shot at Mariota. We’ll see.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama has some random Combine notes here. Lots of OL talk because that is the first group. They’re getting measured, weighed, interviewed and doing the medical stuff.


The Plan

Posted: February 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 265 Comments »

I can’t wait until the summer. First, it will be warm and fun to go outside. Children will run through the park, eating Funyuns and telling stories about the horrible Jimmy Bama monster that lives in the woods and will attack anyone who doesn’t love stick-figure drawings.

We’ll also have a series of signings and draft picks to review. We’ll have a better feel for how Chip Kelly did in his first turn at running the personnel side of things.

Pablo Torre wrote a great piece on Sixers GM Sam Hinkie for ESPN. I don’t know what you think of Hinkie. I find him utterly fascinating. Regardless of what we think, one thing we know for a fact…he has a plan. You may not like the plan. You may like his ideas, but question whether the plan will work. But the plan is there.

I don’t pretend to know enough about the NBA to know if the plan will work. I still think of Steve Mix and Clint Richardson as Sixers so that should tell you just how out of touch I am.

I do wonder if Chip Kelly has any type of plan for building the Eagles roster. Some guys believe in having a specific plan. Others have a more casual plan. Some simply focus on talent.

Jimmy Johnson loved trading back in the draft to load up on picks. He felt that helped his odds. He loved having big draft classes if he could help it.

Ernie Accorsi focused on pass rushers and the QB when building a roster. This worked well when putting together the Giants title team of 2007 (most of the guys were his players even though he retired prior to that year).

Ozzie Newsom and the Ravens seem to keep things simple and focus on finding the best players.

All of these strategies helped build good teams and champions. You don’t need to have an in-depth Hinkie type of plan.

I tend to like GMs/coaches that go into a draft with a plan. You can’t force things, but you can have specific goals. Ron Wolf went into the 1999 draft wanting big CBs to help deal with Randy Moss, who had just come into the league and looked dominant. Wolf also wanted to draft a QB, either to develop as a player or asset. He also liked taking chances on small school guys late in the draft.

1st round CB Antwaun Edwards was more role player than starter. 3rd rounder Mike McKenzie became a very good starter. QB Aaron Brooks was a 4th round pick. A year later Wolf dealt him to the Saints for a 3rd rounder (and a couple of forgettable players were involved). In the 7th round, Wolf took WR Donald Driver from Alcorn State. Wolf’s ideas didn’t work all the time, but they certainly did that year.

Based on Kelly’s talks with the media, you would think he would be the type not to have a specific plan. I can see him saying “Let’s go find some good players.” But Kelly doesn’t open up for the media very often. We might get simplistic soundbites, but they may not accurately reveal what he’s thinking.

As long as Chip gets good players, I’ll be a happy camper.

I will be curious to find out his thoughts and ideas behind the picks. It doesn’t mean anything significant, but I like to know how the Eagles drafter thinks. I understood Big Red for most of his career (although he got different at the end). I had some feel for Howie Roseman and what he liked. I’m back to square one with Kelly.

Can’t wait to see what he does…as long as he gets it right.


QB Intrigue Continues

Posted: February 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 369 Comments »

The problem with picking 20th in the draft is that you are at the mercy of those picking ahead of you. While some writers and draft analysts make a case for Marcus Mariota falling, that seems less likely with every day that goes by. I wouldn’t even bet a half-full can of lukewarm PBR that he gets anywhere close to pick 20 at this point.

I wrote about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the first QB domino to fall in my PE.com column.

You have 32 teams making plans. You also have 32 teams making moves. One move by one team can have an effect on many others and change all kinds of plans. That may have happened this week when Tampa Bay cut veteran quarterback Josh McCown. I’m sure plenty of fans thought “big deal” when they saw that news. But it actually could be a big deal.

The Bucs are now down to two quarterbacks, Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato. Until this very moment, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Lobato. Glennon has had some success as a starter, but hasn’t shown enough that you want to go into a season with him as “the guy.” The Buccaneers just happen to have the first pick in the draft. With McCown, it seemed likely that they would draft a quarterback. Without him, it is almost impossible to think they won’t.

The Bucs could be choosing Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston first overall. I find it hard to believe that the Bucs would take Winston, with all of his off-field baggage. I think Mariota is going first overall. A lot of Eagles fans would love to see Mariota reunited with Chip Kelly. I’m sure Kelly would love that too. Even if the Bucs pull a shocker and take Winston first, there are several other teams that need a quarterback in the top 10.

Now comes this report.

Huh? Even if the Titans love Zach Mettenberger and want him to be the starter, they should be talking up the QBs so that teams will want to move up. Maybe they’re just being honest because they covet a defensive prospect like Leonard Williams or Randy Gregory, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t try to generate interest in your pick to help trade value. The way to do that is talk about QBs as a legitimate possibility.

And then I saw this interesting nugget about a Top 10 team…Jeff Fisher is letting Sam Bradford help pick out the offensive coaching staff. Kinda odd.

Many of us assumed Bradford would be cut. He can’t stay healthy. He’s been up and down for the Rams. Why not cut him and move on?

One possible take is that Fisher doesn’t think either QB is getting to pick 10. If Mariota goes #1 to Tampa, the Skins, Jets and Bears (teams 5-7) could still have interest in Winston. Fisher is hedging his bets and making nice with Bradford just in case. I still think Fisher would covet either of the top QBs.

No matter how you slice this, it doesn’t sound good for the Eagles.

If Mariota goes #1 (and I think he will), you have a tough decision on Winston. I don’t want anything to do with him. I doubt Jeff Lurie would either. Sure, the Eagles went after Mike Vick when he was at rock bottom, but he was also a bargain in terms of cost. The Eagles could cut him at a moment’s notice because they had nothing invested in him. Winston would cost a 1st round pick. He wouldn’t make huge money, but wouldn’t be cheap per se.

If Winston goes #1, you have a slew of Top 10 teams ready to take Mariota. I could even see the Giants considering him. Eli is in the final year of his contract and he’s not getting any younger.

I think it is important that Chip Kelly and Ed Marynowitz figure out other QB plans. Do they draft Brett Hundley? Or Bryce Petty? Or Garrett Grayson? Or do they take a flier on a small school guy like Brandon Bridge or Bryan Bennett?

The Eagles will talk to teams about potential deals in case Mariota does fall, but don’t get your hopes up. Look at other draft prospects. Or look at NFL guys. Do you bring back Mark Sanchez? Colt McCoy is an interesting name on the market. There is some talk that KC could cut Chase Daniel. He could be an interesting option.

You can also hope like heck that Nick Foles takes a big step forward. He’s hard working and has to be incredibly motivated by his mediocre play and then watching the final 8 games.

Just in case, someone make burnt offerings to the Football Gods. Better safe than sorry.


Q & A

Posted: February 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 97 Comments »

I’ve gotten quite a few questions in recent days and haven’t had a chance to answer them. So let’s do that here.

* Someone in the Safety post asked my thoughts on the play on Malcolm Jenkins. They thought ripped on Jenkins in a recent podcast. So what are my true thoughts on him?

I don’t recall my exact words in the podcast, but I think I was trying to point out that Jenkins had not been a Pro Bowl player in 2014. Early in the year Jimmy Bama had listed him as a possible Pro Bowler. Jenkins had several INTs at that point and was playing very well. He did have a good year for the Eagles, but did not play at a Pro Bowl level. There were too many dropped INTs that came in crucial moments. Jenkins hit and tackled well all year. He struggled in man coverage against WRs, as most Safeties do. I thought he was up and down as a centerfielder, although he didn’t do that a lot.

Jenkins gave the Eagles their first legitimately good Safety play in a while. I never expected him to come in and be Dawk Jr. Jenkins is a good player, but there is nothing special about him. I’m very happy with him and hope he’s here for the next few years.

* Did your post on the Safeties mean that the Eagles need a great player to go with Jenkins?

No. Great Safeties are hard to find. The Eagles need a good starter to pair with Jenkins, who is also a good starter. I’d love for the Eagles to find a great S, but that’s a heck of a lot easier said than done.

* In my post on Brett Hundley I talked about how he hadn’t done anything special in college (big wins, key comebacks, Jan 1 bowls, etc). Someone pointed out Mariota was similar to Hundley in this regard.

I strongly disagree. Mariota led Oregon to the Fiesta Bowl as a Redshirt Freshman and they beat #12 Kansas State 35-17. The Ducks finished the year #2 overall. This year Mariota got Oregon to the national title game. He won the Heisman Trophy. This year Oregon hosted #7 Michigan State. The Spartans got out to a 27-18 lead in the 3rd Qtr. The Ducks scored 28 straight points and won 46-27. MSU finished the season as the #8 defense in the nation.

Mariota had better coaching and better talent around him. That has to be factored into the accomplishments. But that also affects the kind of player someone becomes. Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler were talented SEC QBs. Manning was surrounded by NFL talent while Cutler carried Vandy on his back. Cutler took a beating as he played behind a mediocre OL. You can see pocket awareness issues to this day. Manning had a great OL. He learned to be comfortable in the pocket. You still see that to this day.

Mariota was placed in a favorable situation and delivered great results. Oregon did amazing things on offense. They won big games in the conference, out of conference and went 3-0 in bowls. At his best, Mariota was a dominant player.

There are still questions about how Mariota will translate to the NFL. No one will dispute there are concerns with that, and that some of those concerns are similar to the ones with Hundley. I do think Mariota was a better college player and is more likely to pan out in the NFL.

* Several of you asked about Safety Ron Parker as a potential free agent target.

I have not studied Parker’s tape. He will turn 28 this year and is coming off a breakout season. Guys like that do make me nervous. Here is a KC article pointing out his strengths and flaws.

If the Eagles go FA, Rahim Moore from Denver would make a lot of sense. He is a natural FS. He also played for Cory Undlin last year, who is now the Eagles DB coach.


Needed: One Safety

Posted: February 14th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 178 Comments »

Tim Hauck. Damon Moore. Blaine Bishop. Michael Lewis. Quintin Mikell. Those are the men who played opposite of Brian Dawkins from 1999-2008. None of them was great, but they played on some great defenses (2001, 2002, 2004, 2008).

As great as it would be to have a dynamic duo like Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor or Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters, you can have a good defense with one good Safety and one solid starter.

Part of the problem in recent years is that you had Quintin Demps, Macho Harris, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jarrad Page and Patrick Chung trying to help each other succeed. They had no one to lean on. That’s why it was so important for the Eagles to sign Malcolm Jenkins last year and see him play well. He finally gives the Eagles a Safety they can build around.

Clearly he’s not in the same class as Dawkins, but Jenkins is a reliable veteran player. He’s going to do the right things on the court and can help the other Safety off the field. Knowing how to train and study is important for young players trying to develop.

Here are some Jenkins highlights from last year.

The Eagles must find someone to play opposite of him. This could be in free agency or the draft. But the good news is that the Eagles do have one starting spot set and that player can help the new guy.

Last year at this time the Eagles had Earl Wolff and Nate Allen atop the depth chart. That wasn’t awesome. Seeing Jenkins in place makes the task of improving the Safety position seem a heck of a lot easier.

Could this be the year the Eagles get back to having a pair of Safeties they like? Seems like forever since that has been the case.