Posted: December 4th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 118 Comments »
We all know the Eagles are hot, having won 4 games in a row. But I didn’t realize just how good the numbers are.
That is pretty freakin’ impressive, huh.
For the year, Football Outsiders has the Eagles up to 9th in DVOA. They are 3rd in offense, 25th in defense and 19th in STs.
Every time I try to go and calm down expectations with this team, someone finds a stat that makes you start to wonder just how good this group can be. Can they sustain this? Can they improve on it?
I wrote about that angle for PE.com. I think this is a lot more than a hot streak. I see the Eagles as playing good football. As I studied the Cardinals 4-game win streak, that felt more like a solid team taking advantage of circumstances. I don’t believe in the Cards. I do believe in the Eagles. Time will prove if that is wise or not.
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Will the Eagles re-sign Jeremy Maclin in the offseason?
My guess is that the team will try to do that. It would make sense for both sides to do a 1-year deal. Mac is coming off a torn ACL. He’s going to have a limited market. The best thing would be to stay with his current team, doctors and rehab people. Get back on the field and then show all 32 teams where he is. Mac is still young. If he has a good year in 2014, he could go get a big deal the next offseason.
I’m sure seeing what Riley Cooper is doing has to get Mac’s attention. He is a better WR than Coop, in terms of positional skills and athletic ability. Mac has to know he could make some big plays and post good numbers.
We know the Eagles love bargains. Getting Mac at a reduced rate, even if just for a season, has to be an attractive idea. If Mac thrives, you work on an extension. If he doesn’t, you let him walk.
The Eagles have other factors to consider. Cooper is a free agent. I’m sure they’d like him back, but at what cost? I have to think Jason Avant is gone. He is a skilled veteran, but seems very replaceable in this offense. Avant has great value as a person and leader, but as a WR he isn’t a compelling player. DeSean Jackson’s contract can be torn up, but the Eagles have to want him back. There may need to be some re-working of the numbers, but I’d expect that situation to work itself out.
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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians went on a radio show and again complained about officiating. He’s highly frustrated by the inconsistency of calls and how different crews call games.
Compare that to how Chip Kelly and Bill Davis deal with officials. They don’t publicly complain. Kelly loves to say “That’s the call they made so it must be the right call.”
Davis admits that different crews calls games in different ways. He talked at his press conference about how he tells his players to adjust to the officials. “If they’re letting you play, do it. If they’re calling it tight, back off with the contact.” Davis isn’t complaining at all. You simply adjust.
And as he points out…calls tend to even out over the course of a season.
I love the fact the Eagles coaches are not looking for excuses or something to complain about. They’re focused on the opponent. That’s something they can control and do something about. Complaining about officiating is a waste of your time and energy. If the NFL told Arians he was right about all 15 complaints, would that change the game? Would it make him feel better? Would it help him prepare for the Rams this week?
Bruce is a long-time NFL assistant and someone that is highly respected, but the more he complains, the less I like him.
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Jimmy Bama might be the hackiest hack in the whole hack world, but the man knows punters. And he loves Donnie Jones.
• In 2012, 40 of the Eagles’ 71 punts were returned. That’s 56.3%. Half of the returned punts (20) went for at least 10 yards. This season, only 22 of the Eagles’ 65 punts (33.8%) have been returned. A grand total of 1 punt return has gone for 10+ yards.
• In 2012, the Eagles were 31st in net punting average, at 36.9. This season, the Eagles’ net punting average is 41.3, which is good for 7th in the NFL.
• In 2012, the Eagles were dead last in punts inside the 20, with 15 of them. This season, Jones already has 29 punts inside the 20, which is 2nd in the NFL.
Go read the whole post. It is basically Jimmy’s love letter to Donnie. I’ve got Megan Fox. He gets Donnie Jones. That seems fair to me.
Posted: December 3rd, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 41 Comments »
I really love listening to Bill Davis talk. You can see why Chip Kelly was so impressed by him when they met. Davis clearly doesn’t have a strong track record as a Defensive Coordinator, but the guy is smart and a good communicator. He is able to discuss complex concepts, but isn’t one of those football guys who loves to make things more complicated than they need to be…let’s call that Grudening. Davis can keep things simple when that’s all that is needed.
In his press conference, Davis was asked about how much of a help Donnie Jones has been in the last couple of weeks. Davis praised Jones and also talked about the offense. The Eagles have protected the ball well in the past 8 games, making life substantially easier on the defense. That means the opposing offense constantly has to drive a long field to score.
Since the Denver debacle, the offense has 8 turnovers in 8 games. The defense has 17 takeaways. That’s how you go 6-2 and start to look like a good team.
And that’s only looking at the numbers. More than half of the turnovers came from Matt Barkley. Several of those came at midfield or in plus territory. That’s crushing for the offense, but it doesn’t hurt the defense. They still get to protect a long field.
Special Teams has been huge, especially recently. Jones had 7 punts inside the 20 on Sunday and no touchbacks. That meant that 7 drives started inside the 20-yard line. That is 7 drives where Arizona needed to realistically drive about 50 yards to get in scoring position. Jones has nailed some really big punts when the Eagles were backed up. There was a 69-yard punt on Sunday that flipped the field in the 2nd half. The Eagles were pinned at their own 14 when Jones unloaded a bomb that backed the Cards up to their own 17. They hoped to be near midfield.
Late in the game Jones pinned the Cards at the 10. That put tremendous pressure on them since there was just 2:03 left in the game. The week before Jones launched a rocket that backed the Skins up deep on their final drive. That makes all the difference in the world when you’re protecting a lead.
We praise the defense for the 8-game streak of teams scoring 21 points or less, but that really is a team effort. The offense isn’t turning the ball over. The kickers are putting the ball deep. And the coverage units are getting downfield and making plays. How many times have we seen Brandon Boykin downfield waiting for the punt to land so he can down it? Subtle, but huge.
I’m glad a reporter asked Davis about this and he was able to discuss the subject.
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In case you missed it, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has decided to stay in school. He will return to Oregon for the 2014 season. Mariota is just a RS-Sophomore so I’m a fan of this move. RBs have only so many carries. One play can ruin them. Go pro and get paid. QBs have a longer shelf life. They need as much prep time as possible. Mariota is physically ready, but he’ll benefit from staying in school.
Mariota won’t say this, but I’m sure his decision was mainly based on GJ Kinne. Nick Foles is the QB for the next 1,000 years. Then Barkley is here for at least 237. By that time Kinne will be ready to take over for his 1,000 year reign. Mariota can do the math. That means he wouldn’t be the Eagles QB until almost the year 5000. Nobody wants to wait that long.
The media won’t acknowledge it, but clearly this is the Kinne Effect.
Posted: December 3rd, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 211 Comments »
Back in 1994 Jimmy Johnson was fresh off being the Cowboys coach. He was new to broadcasting and an interesting guy. He made my jaw hit the floor one day when he explained that he would take Emmitt Smith over Barry Sanders. Say what?
Johnson then showed video of Sanders on a long TD run. As he was on the way downfield, Sanders inexplicably drifted toward the left sideline. By the end of the run, he was only a couple of yards away. Jimmy joked that if the field was any longer, Sanders would have run out of bounds. Emmitt wasn’t nearly as dynamic, but he was a more controlled runner. There were no wasted motions or steps. He “trusted the play”, as the saying goes in football circles. You run where the play is designed to go. That way everyone knows how to block for you. When you freelance and take chances, the blockers are clueless since the runner is behind them initially.
I don’t think anyone would dispute that LeSean McCoy is a great runner. He regularly makes our jaws hit the floor with his explosive lateral cuts and great juke moves. Tackling him can be about as easy as eating soup with a fork.
While McCoy is a great RB, I do wonder if he’s always the right player for some situations.
Late in games, you want to move the chains and work the clock. This is situational football. You must play to the situation. Shady has a hard time letting go of his instincts to go for big plays. He’ll see a defender in the backfield and cut left or right. He’ll then try to get outside. Suddenly no gain or a short loss gets worse.
Running the ball into a stacked box is tough. If you do it with a N-S runner who has some pop, he’s going to get stuffed plenty of times. He won’t have the wiggle to make guys miss. But he can wear down defenders. He can break some arm tackles since he runs hard and with power rather than trying to be elusive and light on his feet. That runner can break a big play vs a stacked box if he hits the right spot and there is a bit of a hole. We can all remember Emmitt Smith doing this. The Eagles might have limited him to 21 carries for 73 yards. Then he’d break off a 39-yard run late in the game and suddenly he’s 22-112. That used to drive me nuts.
Remember Marion Barber? He was a terrific “closer”. Barber ran with violence and power. He was very hard to tackle. Dallas would use other runners initially, but Barber would be the 4th quarter guy and he was a huge pain in the butt.
The Eagles ran the ball really well vs the Packers in the 4th quarter. They struggled the last 2 weeks and were inconsistent in games vs the Giants and Raiders. The running game stagnated in the season opener when the team had a big lead over the Skins.
I’m certainly not blaming McCoy for all the struggles. Chip Kelly is using a formula that isn’t favorable. He is spreading out the defense with 3 WRs and then trying to run against 7 and 8-man fronts. 5 OL and a TE aren’t going to win that battle very often. Defenses are daring the Eagles to throw the ball. I do think the problem is compounded by McCoy’s style.
I’d love for Kelly to try and mix things up. Bryce Brown has the size and strength to be effective. Chris Polk was very good at this type of running while he was in college. I think part of Kelly’s hesitation is that Brown had major fumbling issues last year. Polk had some fumbling problems this summer. Kelly also seems to like sticking with his star RB. I’m assuming this is Kelly’s choice and not that of Duce Staley.
McCoy can be a downhill runner when he wants to. You saw him attack the hole on the 4th/2 run late in the 1st half on Sunday. That was perfect. That’s what you’d like to see more of. Shady does have the NFL record for 50-yard runs in the 4th quarter, but that’s part of the problem. The Eagles don’t need big plays when protecting a lead. Just move the chains and keep the clock rolling. Shady’s instinct is to go for the big play. That means moving laterally and trying to get outside. Running wide against a stacked box is a losing proposition.
The Saints normally do a great job of mixing up RB duties so that everyone does something they’re good at. I love the fact Sean Payton is very situational with his runners. He maximizes their output by doing that. When you have a great RB like Shady, you need to feed him the ball. Giving his touches away wouldn’t be smart…for most of the game. I do wonder if mixing in the backups late would be something to try.
I hope the Eagles have leads in upcoming games so we can see what adjustments Kelly makes, whether to the lineup or the playcalling.
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Just how critical is Shady to the Eagles success on the ground? This is an interesting question. Kelly had all sorts of productive runners while at Oregon and New Hampshire. I tend to think Kelly would get production from the run game no matter what. McCoy averages 4.7 yards per rush. A lesser RB would be closer to 4.0. He also wouldn’t be near the top of the league in rushing yards.
McCoy is a special player, but RB is the most replaceable position. The Eagles went from Herschel Walker to Ricky Watters to Charlie Garner to Duce Staley to Brian Westbrook to Shady. That’s 20 years of really good RB play. There were also guys like Heath Sherman, Correll Buckhalter, Dorsey Levens and Leonard Weaver mixed in.
The Eagles saw last year just how explosive Bryce Brown could be when he was getting fed the ball. He has yet to really get going as a runner this year, but Kelly is right that a lot of that is due to Shady’s healthy. I will admit that one of my few disappointments with Kelly is how he’s used the RB corps. I hoped this would finally be the year when all 3 RBs got regular touches. That simply hasn’t happened.
We’ll see what happens down the stretch.
At some point, you have to play the backups. Either you believe in them in enough to have them on the roster or you are wasting roster spots.
Posted: December 2nd, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 75 Comments »
This is so disappointing to find out.
The Arizona Cardinals have sent tapes containing about 15 plays from Sunday’s game to the league office for review.
“There were obviously problems in the ballgame,” said head coach Bruce Arians. “There are protocol to follow. We followed the protocol. We sent the tapes into the league office. [Vice President of Officiating] Dean Blandino does a great job as far as being honest on the calls, and we’ll follow up more…on what will be done and can be done later, but that’s all I’ll say about the officiating in that ballgame. The proper channels have been followed, and there were obviously very many problems.”
Arians noted that the Cards submitted about 15 plays for review.
“That’s pretty high,” he said. “I think that’s considered a problem.”
Arians did at least follow up with this.
“As long as everybody owns up to it, you move on. It’s part of the game,” Arians said. “We’re here working our tails off this week, those guys are back at their other jobs.”
The officials made calls that hurt and helped both teams yesterday. Complaining about 15 of them? That sounds nuts to me. This comes off as whining. I don’t like it one bit and I’ll be pulling for the Cards to lose from here on out.
They got beat by a better team on Sunday. Own up to it.
I can see going nuts over one huge call in a game, but sending tape of 15 just doesn’t sit well with me. Really feels like sour grapes. I hope the Rams whip their ass next week and Bruce Arians is forced to send off a tape with 16 or 17 questionable calls.
What a bunch of crap.
Posted: December 2nd, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 176 Comments »
Nick Foles had a QB rating of 112 yesterday and that actually lowered his QB rating for the season. Think about that for a second. Foles was up at 128. He’s now all the way down at 125.2.
We keep waiting for something to change. But it hasn’t.
On Sunday Foles faced a defense that was Top 10 in yards, points and opposing passer rating. Football Outsiders had the Cardinals defense 2nd in DVOA. The Cards had a takeaway in all 11 games this year. This was a good defense.
Foles shredded the Cardinals for almost 3 quarters. He threw 3 TD passes and made it look easy at times. The Eagles had 24 points early in the 3rd quarter. To put that in perspective, the Cardinals had given up 25 points in the previous 8 quarters combined.
People are really starting to believe.
Peter King did an interview with Foles and made him the headline at MMQB. About the non-INT…
“Man, horrible throw, horrible decision,” Foles said from Philadelphia an hour after the game. “When I saw the flag and heard the call, I said, ‘Thank you God.’ I learned my lesson there. But that’s what I try to do: I build a database with decisions like that, and I learn from them. If I get that same look the next time, I’ll make a different throw, or I’ll throw it away. The good thing about it is, Coach has confidence in my decision-making.”
Those are beautiful words to my ears. Nick got lucky and he knows it. Learn from the mistake. Don’t repeat it.
Here are some interesting comments from someone at Football Outsiders.
Vince Verhei: This was the first time I paid any real attention to Nick Foles on his hot streak. And for three quarters, he looked just as good as his ridiculous numbers. It seemed like he never made a bad decision or throw. It’s not just that he wasn’t throwing interceptions, he wasn’t throwing anything that even had a reasonable chance of being intercepted. The fourth quarter was another story. He threw his first interception of the season, right to Patrick Peterson, but it was wiped out by a penalty. He threw another two or three balls that could have been picked but were broken up by his receivers, and had another pass tipped at the line and up into the air. I don’t know if Arizona was doing anything different on defense at the end of the game, but Foles looked like a different guy.
That’s fair criticism.
And here are some interesting thoughts from Sigmund Bloom, a football writer and analyst. He had a good discussion on Twitter with some other football guys. None of them are Eagles fans so that’s what makes this so interesting.
thats where foles is hitting imo. has mindmeld w chip flow chart of options for QB on any given play
he’s making correct read and executing. very little improv, just taking plays from chalkboard to field
plays set up matchups they think they can win (TEs today) and foles executes
i think chip has the effect of turning calculus into addition/subtraction.
None of us has any idea what to truly make of 19 TDs and no INTs. This is mind-blowing stuff for such a young QB. How much of this is Chip Kelly’s offense? How much is luck? How much is circumstances? These are all fair questions.
Kelly’s system is pretty darn good. Michael Vick posted big numbers in the first 2 games. He had QB ratings of 112.6 and 123.4. The difference between him and Foles is that Mike couldn’t stay healthy. He got hurt late in the SD game or early vs the Chiefs and his play dipped. Vick also posted those numbers against 2 of the worst defenses in the league.
Foles played the Bucs, Raiders and Cardinals when those teams were rated highly. Foles threw 13 TD passes in those games and the Eagles won all 3. You can no longer use the “who did he play” question with Foles. He’s done well against against a variety of teams and schemes.
Defenses have seen the Eagles and Foles now long enough to know what’s coming. This is no longer teams studying Oregon tape to prepare. They know what the Eagles do. They know what Foles can do. This isn’t voodoo. This isn’t luck.
I get that some of you still have doubts about Foles. That’s fine. Just don’t be unreasonable as you judge him. This is enough of a sample size that you can’t dismiss it to just being a couple of good games or anything like that.
Deion Sanders brought up the question on the NFL Network of whether Foles should be in MVP consideration if he continues to play like this. And Michael Irvin praised him left and right. Those guys are huge Vick fans, but they can see that Foles is the better player right now.
Foles is playing at a consistent level. He’s making smart decisions and accurate throws. That is QB 101. The fact he isn’t making highlight throws and great runs should be encouraging to you. Those things are tough to sustain. Being smart and accurate? That can last for a decade.
Foles is the QB of the present and every week he looks more like the QB of the future as well. Jeff McLane posted a quote from Kelly on WIP this morning.
Chip Kelly gave Nick Foles the closest thing to a long-term endorsement when he was asked by Angelo Cataldi during his regularly-scheduled Monday appearance on 94-WIP if the second-year player had the makings to be the Eagles’ quarterback of the future.
“Yeah, you hope so,” Kelly said. “And I don’t mean to be coy. I always say this … you can say that whomever is your player of the future and then the next week they get hurt. I hope that Nick’s here for a long time. I’m a big supporter of him. I think he does a fantastic job. But we also know that injuries occur in this game and that’s why I always qualify what I say. But I love the kid and I think he’s playing outstanding.”
I think the ultimate compliment I can pay to Foles is that I now expect him to play well. There used to be hoping and wishing. Now there are expectations.