Pederson Talks in Mobile

Posted: January 27th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 67 Comments »

Doug Pederson met with the press down here in Mobile.

The first thing he announced is that the Eagles hired a DL coach. They tabbed Chris Wilson from the college ranks to come in and work with the D-linemen. Wilson has been all over the place and has had success with multiple teams/players.

2015 USC
2014 USC
2013 Georgia
2012 Miss State (Def Coordinator)
2011 Miss State (Def Coordinator)
2010 Miss State

From 2005-2009, Wilson was the DEs coach for Oklahoma.

This seems like a very good hire. Wilson knows how to teach young players. He has DC experience, which means he understands the big picture and how the DL fits into the overall defense.

Pederson has a lot of NFL guys on his staff so I think it is good to add someone from college. You want a mixture of backgrounds.

Pederson didn’t say anything too definitive in his talk today. Here are some quick hits:

  • When asked about Sports Science, Pederson gave a very honest answer and said he didn’t know much about it and would have to learn more about that.
  • He still didn’t want to publicly commit to the 4-3, but everything says that will be the base look.
  • Pederson said he wasn’t sure if the Eagles would have a FB on the roster.
  • He said he wanted Jason Peters back on the team and thinks JP can be a good LT for several more years.
  • Pederson said Jordan Matthews could play in the slot as well as outside.

And what about Sam Bradford?

Pederson said he had talked to Sam Bradford. He said he “looked forward to coaching him.” Since Pederson is new to meeting with the media under this kind of scrutiny, we don’t know if that was a verbal misstep or a huge hint. The way it came out, you felt Pederson was saying he wanted and expected Bradford back. But Pederson isn’t used to talks like this. He simply may have been trying to say the right thing without making any type of strong commitment.

Someone asked about Carson Wentz. Pederson said he was impressed with what he saw and that he was looking forward to meeting with Wentz.

*****

Jeffrey Lurie is in town. He’s supposedly here to take a look at some players and to take the whole coaching staff out to dinner.

You wonder about a couple of other angles. First, could he be here to interview some candidates for the personnel job? There are a lot of people in Mobile looking for a job. Howie Roseman, Pederson and Lurie are all here. Would make some sense.

No rumors for now, but let’s see what happens.

You also wonder if Lurie is here to meet Carson Wentz, the QB prospect. The Eagles have a key decision to make in regard to Sam Bradford. It would be easier to let him walk if you felt strongly that Wentz was a serious target at pick 13. Normally you have draft prospects come to Philly, but the decision on Bradford will have to be made by late February, way before prospects visit teams.

I’m just guessing with Lurie and Wentz. That’s not based on a scoop or any type of rumor. Simply some speculation.

*****

Speaking of meetings…

Wentz and Whitehair are arguably the two best offensive prospects in Mobile. Both were terrific on the field today. I don’t know if the Eagles will pick either player or have strong interest in either, but they are checking them out closely and should be impressed with what they see.

I’ll write more on them when I do my Senior Bowl notes.

*****

One Eagles scout talked to DE Shawn Oakman.

Another scout talked to DB Sean Davis.

Oakman is a huge, talented player from Baylor. In the summer of 2014, he was thought to be an All-American and likely Top 10 pick. He is 6-8, 267 with huge hands and long arms. Oakman is a good athlete with pass rush ability. Now for the bad news. He’s an underachiever that is very frustrating. If you got him in the mid-rounds, he’s worth the risk. The Eagles have talked to him and Carl Nassib, a pair of tall, long DEs. Jim Schwartz has had success with long pass rushers.

Davis is 6-1, 201. He played CB and S for Maryland. I don’t know enough about him and the new staff to have a strong feel for where they would project him.

*****

My notes on Day 2 – South practice.

I’ll post the North notes on Thursday morning.

_


Celek Stays

Posted: January 27th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 229 Comments »

Yesterday Jimmy Bama and I were enjoying a nutritious lunch at Danny’s Fried Chicken over in Fairhope when the Eagles announced Brent Celek signed an extension.

I didn’t get a chance to comment on this yesterday.

Interesting move. I wondered if it might be time to move on from Celek. He is a good guy and remains a solid player, but he is getting older. With Zach Ertz needing more playing time, cutting Celek seemed like a real possibility.

I’m glad Celek and the Eagles were able to work something out so he could stick around. He is a good teammate and has to be given some of the credit for the development of Ertz. With a new coaching staff coming in, you want as many good locker room guys as you can get. They help the transition from the old coach to the new one.

With the new staff coming in, we don’t know how they will use personnel. I looked at the last few games of 2015 to see if the Chiefs were starting with 2 TE, 3 WR or I-formation. They started a FB for one game, but were mainly 3 WR in the games I checked.

Trey Burton might be the man to take the FB/H-back role. Or he could stay at TE and the Eagles could go find a FB. Keeping Celek means he is more likely to move if you want to get him on the field. We’ll have to wait and see what the new staff thinks of Mr. Burton.

I do hope this means Celek will be able to retire an Eagle.

*****

I mentioned yesterday that the Eagles talked to ILB Nick Kwiatkoski after practice. Assuming the Eagles move to  4-3, they need a backup MLB. I can’t see DeMeco Ryans sticking around. He is a great leader, but you can’t lead if you don’t play and there is no way he’s on the field ahead of Jordan Hicks.

Najee Goode could be the backup MLB, but he might fit better at WLB. He’s not the most physical guy.

Kwiatkoski is 6-2, 241 and he will take on blockers, both FBs and OL. He’s not the world’s greatest athlete, but could be a good backup at MLB. He also has experience at both outside spots. Just as important, he could be very good on STs due to his toughness and how hard he plays.

*****

Some people have said to somewhat ignore who the team talks to. In recent years, things have changed and the Senior Bowl now sets it up so that every team has a chance to have a sit-down with each prospect. This is done at night and is the NFL version of speed-dating.

Still, you can’t ignore other meetings and visits. The scout yesterday had the whole North team on the practice field. He specifically chose to go speak to Kwiatkoski and Carl Nassib. I think that is worth making a note of.

A few years back Jimmy and I noted that one Eagles rep went and talked to DEs every day. One day he talked to this kid named Vinny Curry. Three months later, the Eagles drafted Curry. The way that guy specifically went around and talked to DEs told us they wanted to draft someone, probably early, at that spot.

*****

You want the strange side of things in Mobile?

Check out this Pulitzer Prize candidate from Jimmy Bama.

*****

Howie Roseman spoke to the media yesterday. He didn’t say anything you didn’t already know.

Here is Les Bowen’s take.

Here is Jeff McLane’s take.

I actually like Tim McManus’ piece the best.

*****

Time to go get wet and watch some football practice.

_


Eagles Interest

Posted: January 26th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 107 Comments »

I have Senior Bowl notes to post, but while I’m working on them, you might enjoy this info.

After practice, an Eagles scout talked to ILB Nick Kwiatkoski from West Va and DE Carl Nassib from Penn State. I spoke to Nassib to ask if they mentioned anything about the scheme to him. He said they didn’t. I’m still thinking it will be a 4-3. And the scout had a lengthy discussion with Kwiatkoski. He played SAM and WIL in college, but is working as an ILB here in Mobile.

Will this finally be the year the Eagles draft an OL? Sure feels that way.

A scout talked to Stanford LG Josh Garnett on Monday.

A scout spoke to OL Joe Dahl on Monday as well. Dahl now has a second meeting with the Eagles. He thinks it is with the offensive staff. Dahl played LT at Washington State this year. He played OG in the past. I asked him if moving was an issue. He said he’s glad to play wherever an NFL team wants him. I watched Dahl prior to coming to Mobile. The thing that stood out to me was how he battled on every snap. He isn’t a gifted athlete, but he is a tough guy and he makes the most of his ability. Real interesting mid-round OG prospect.

What about Cody Whitehair, who some think could be a target at pick 13? The Eagles have a meeting set up with him on Wednesday. He mentioned coaches, but wasn’t sure of who exactly. Whitehair played LT at Kansas State in 2015, but is slated by most to move inside at the next level. Whitehair actually thinks he can play LT or OG. He’s confident, but not cocky. I enjoyed speaking with him.

The Eagles are showing a lot of interest in OG prospects. This isn’t one guy. This isn’t one type of guy. Garnett is a 317-pound mauler type. Dahl is a scrapper. Whitehair is an OT/OG tweener and a technician.

I’m willing to go out on a limb and guarantee that the Eagles do draft an OL this year.

*****

I stood next to Doug Pederson for a while at practice today. I didn’t get any scoopage. He was watching mediocre QB play (insert Eagles joke here) and didn’t offer any hints as to what he was focusing on or thinking.

Also, Mobile is a giant get-together for the NFL world. Pederson had 655, 321 people come up and congratulate him on the new gig. Howie Roseman had a few people come up and talk to him as well.

Jim Schwartz had a ton of visitors. He coached in the Senior Bowl a few years back and a lot of his visitors had Senior Bowl ties. Still, interesting to see.

******

Day 1 practice notes

_


Senior Bowl Talk

Posted: January 26th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 559 Comments »

I’m down in Mobile, AL for the Senior Bowl. I’m here to scout some football players and stalk Alex Flanagan. She’s normally here, but the NFL Network has reduced their coverage so I hope she’s here. ESPNU will cover practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

Due to the change in coaches, I don’t yet have a great feel of what exactly I’m looking for. I will be focusing in on QB, OL and WR. I’ll check out LB and S as well.

Only one QB here could be worth pick 13 and that is Carson Wentz from ND State. He is a good athlete. He has terrific size. I want to see how he does going up against top flight competition. I’m also curious to see how he does throwing the ball downfield. He has a good arm. I didn’t see much of a vertical game from him this year.

The other QB I’ve become fascinated by is Kevin Hogan. He’s awkward, at times reminding me of Philip Rivers. But he has some athletic ability and played the last 4 years (seemed more like 10) in a pro style offense. He understands throwing the ball to the TE or the FB, as well as WRs. I think he might be a good fit in what I expect Pederson’s offense to be.

I’m excited to see OL Cody Whitehair. He played LT for Kansas State, but easily could slide into LG and thrive. Love watching him play. So smart and technically sound. And nasty. He could be in play when the Eagles pick at 13.

The LT I like the most right now is Kyle Murphy. He is long, tall and athletic. Good run blocker with pass blocking skills. Just needs to get stronger.

Willie Beavers played LT for Western Michigan, but projects at OG in the NFL. He was an adequate pass blocker in college. He just doesn’t have the foot quickness to handle explosive edge rushers at the next level. He is a tough, physical blocker and could be good on the inside. It will be interesting to see how he does this week.

Connor McGovern and Vadal Alexander are two more G/T tweeners. Alexander is a really impressive run blocker. He played RT for LSU.

This isn’t the greatest group of WRs. The guy I think everyone is most excited about is Braxton Miller. He played QB for Ohio State in the past, but moved to WR this year and played well. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Leontee Caroo from Rutgers intrigues me. He’s not huge, but has okay size. He has good hands and plays the ball aggressively in the air. Too many WRs let the ball come to them. He goes and gets it.

There are two big Safeties I’ll be watching. Miles Killebrew lists at 230 pounds and was a star for Southern Utah. He can hit like a ton of bricks. But can he cover?

Jeremy Cash from Duke is a guy that I think would be outstanding playing in Jim Schwartz’s scheme. He is 210 pounds and is a major playmaker near the LOS. Cash had 18 TFLs as a Senior. That’s unheard of for a SS. He can blitz, stuff the run and pound on receivers. He isn’t great in coverage. Can he be good enough? Roman Harper has played in the NFL for a decade with mediocre cover skills. Cash is a terrific student and team leader. He’s the kind of guy you want on your side.

If the weather holds, should be a fun week.

*****

Who wants an extension? Everyone apparently.

Zach Ertz signed an extension yesterday, which is great news. Lock up the young stars.

BGN has the details of some other contracts that are being worked on. Keep your fingers crossed for Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry.

_


More on the Defense

Posted: January 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 431 Comments »

I rushed through the Jim Schwartz video post because I wanted you to be able to watch those videos without having to also deal with a bunch of my comments. Now that you’ve hopefully seen them, let’s talk about Schwartz and what he has to say.

First, that talk should give you a feel for just how much thought and work went into developing the Wide-9 front and package. It takes a lot of knowledge to come up with something like that and then to teach it the right way.

I love the fact that Schwartz developed that package to deal with a division rival. That’s the NFL way. When you have to play someone twice a year and they are the best team in your division, you should make plans for them. The first step in trying to make the playoffs is winning your division. That’s a tangible goal that you control.

Schwartz knew how to scheme around the weaknesses of his personnel. He also knew how to scheme to take advantage of his personnel. In that case, it was dealing with teams that ran away from Albert Haynesworth. By taking away outside runs, Haynesworth could make plays from the backside or clog the middle.

Schwartz told the Philly media that he wasn’t married to the Wide-9. He did a lot with under fronts in Buffalo. He mixed things up in Detroit. The Wide-9 was part of those defenses, but it wasn’t everything. Schwartz is smart enough to know you have to adjust to your personnel, but also to what your opponents do as well. Just running something because that’s what you want…not so wise.

*****

Will the Eagles run the 4-3?

I think so. Notice that they only hired one LBs coach. With the 3-4 you generally have 2 LBs coaches or one coach and one assistant. KC had Gary Gibbs as LBs coach and a young guy as assistant LBs coach. 3-4 teams generally carry 8 to 10 guys and they do multiple things. That usually requires multiple coaches.

I don’t know why the Eagles are so hesitant to talk scheme. Coaches can be weird and overly protective at times.

*****

Assuming the Eagles do go to a 4-3, there are a lot of tweeners.

Connor Barwin said he thinks he’ll move to DE. He could play SAM if they wanted him there.

Marcus Smith could drop to 250 and play SAM or stay in the 260 range and play DE. Playing DE in a 1-gap scheme simplifies a lot. You attack. Playing LB meant setting the edge or rushing or dropping into coverage. I hope the new staff has more success with Smith. He is talented. The fact he has shown so little in 2 years means I won’t be holding my breath.

Does Travis Long fit the 4-3? Could be DE or SAM. Better fit for the 3-4.

Taylor Hart might be able to play the 3-tech spot. Or they may like his length at LDE. Schwartz has had some big DEs in the past. Hart may be another guy that is better for the 3-4 and gets dealt.

Is Najee Goode a MLB or WLB?

*****

When Andy Reid came here from Green Bay, he brought his QB with him. Other Packers players followed. Will Doug Pederson want to bring some Chiefs to Philly?

The KC Star took a look at pending Chiefs free agents. Two players jumped out at me.

G Jeff Allen: Allen, 26, brought experience and nastiness to the offensive line. It’s not a coincidence the Chiefs went 11-1 once he returned to the starting lineup after a preseason knee injury. The Chiefs’ regime has shown a tendency to let offensive linemen walk — guards Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz both left via free-agency in 2014 — but Corry isn’t sure history will repeat itself. “I don’t think they can afford to make the same mistake they did a couple of years ago when they let both guards leave,” said Corry, who could see Allen commanding a multiyear deal worth $4 million per year.

QB Chase Daniel: Daniel, 29, wants to be a starter in this league. Corry could see him gunning for a one-year deal worth a little more than $4 million a year.

If the Eagles want a veteran to plug in at LG, Allen would make sense. He’s in the prime of his career, won’t cost a fortune and knows Pederson.

I’m sure Daniel wants a chance to start. The Eagles could give him that chance, if Sam Bradford ends up elsewhere. Daniel would be a band-aid type of starter. Someone to keep the seat warm until a young QB is ready to take over.

The biggest name is Eric Berry, but I can’t see them letting him go.

*****

I wrote about Doug Pederson and the coaching staff he’s put together for PE.com. I explained why the hires make sense and how they fit together. Compelling reading for the whole family.

_