Trust the Board

Posted: September 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 291 Comments »

Back in 2011 Andy Reid wanted to draft Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. Scouts and other members of the Personnel Dept objected. He wasn’t worth a 2nd round pick. Reid overruled them and took Jarrett. It wasn’t a good class for Safeties and the Eagles needed one. Reid ignored the value board and reached for a need. That didn’t go so well.

This spring the Eagles hoped to land an O-lineman early in the draft. They had a number of players targeted. Unfortunately, those players all got taken early. When the 3rd round pick came up, the Eagles stuck with their board and took ILB Jordan Hicks.

There were quite a few fans upset with the pick. It seemed like a waste of resources with Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso already in place. Najee Goode was there to add depth. Brad Jones had been added in free agency. ILB was arguably the deepest position on the team. Hicks was overkill.

But that’s a simplistic way to think.

The Eagles had a very high grade on Hicks. They saw him as a player that could be a strong starter for a long time. And with the Eagles running the 3-4 defense, you can never have enough linebackers.

Many people, myself included, were hoping for a S or OL. Some of the guys on the board were:

OT Chaz Green
OG Daryl Williams
OT T.J. Clemmings
OG Tre Jackson
OG Arie Kouandjo
OG Jamil Douglas

S James Sample
S Clifton Geathers
S Ibraheim Campbell

Would you rather have any of those guys than Hicks? I sure wouldn’t. I wanted Clemmings at the time, but that’s because I didn’t know just how many teams were scared of his foot situation. Foot injuries on big guys are never a good thing. They can plague a player’s career if bad enough.

So far Hicks has looked like a terrific pick. Despite playing less than others, Hicks leads the team in solo tackles. He already has a TFL, a sack, an INT, a FF and a FR. Wow.

I can’t stress to you just how impressive that is.

Kendricks is a terrific athlete and gifted playmaker. In his entire rookie season, he had 1 sack, 9 PDs and 5 TFLs. He did not have an INT, FF or FR. Hicks isn’t likely to keep making plays at this pace, but this isn’t luck. He’s playing very well. He’s been in the right place at the right time to get his hands on the ball. Some guys just have that knack. Let’s hope he proves to be a playmaker over the course of an entire career.

It turns out the Eagles were right to have Hicks graded so high. It also turns out they were smart to take him when he fell to their 3rd round spot.

As for the O-line, the Eagles will make that a focal point in the offseason.


Andrew Gardner is on IR. Ugh.

I really wanted to see what he could do over the course of the season. He wasn’t going to become Shawn Andrews and start dominating, but he had the potential to be a solid RG.

Matt Tobin has the job. For now.

Tobin will only keep it as long as he plays well. If not, Dennis Kelly will get a shot. Josh Andrews could be in the mix as well.

The Eagles brought back Julian Vandervelde to replace Gardner. Jimmy Bama had some fun with the fact that Vandy has been cut and re-signed by the Eagles about 237 times.

I wish he was a slightly better player. Seems like a heckuva guy.


This is encouraging.

I know it seems like Agholor is off to a slow start. Passes need to come his way more often. Good passes, that is. I think he’ll have a breakout game sooner or later. Not having to face Darelle Revis will help a lot. Who knows…maybe it will be this week. Jordan Matthews breakout game came last year vs the Skins, this Sunday’s opponent.


Injury Update

Posted: September 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 230 Comments »

Football can be a cruel game. Andrew Gardner won the competition to be the starting RG this summer. He played well in the preseason and despite perception that he was struggling in regular season games, Gardner had been solid. He was taking advantage of the opportunity afforded him.

Unfortunately there is some bad news.

Yikes. For the Eagles and Gardner. The O-line just played its best game of the year on Sunday. The last thing that group needed was change. And bad news for Gardner. This won’t cost him a new deal or money, but it takes away the thing players treasure the most…playing time.

Gardner isn’t a spring chicken. He is 29 and this is his first chance to be a regular starter. Jon Runyan never wanted to come off the field because he feared getting Wally Pipp’d (see here to understand that reference). You never know how Gardner’s replacement will do. Matt Tobin will most likely get the call. He’s younger than Gardner and could steal the job long term.

Tobin can be an effective starting RG. He has the right combination of size, physicality and athleticism. Tobin just hasn’t been consistent. Maybe losing the RG battle this summer will serve as a wake-up call and bring out the best in Tobin.

Dennis Kelly and Josh Andrews are other candidates for the RG spot. Kelly might struggle in pass pro from the RG spot. He has pretty good feet, but doesn’t use his arms well. That could make him vulnerable to interior rushers where you can’t just play the angle and use your length. Andrews is interesting. He’s never played an offensive snap in an NFL game that I know of. He certainly hasn’t started. Still, Andrews had a good summer and earned his spot on the team. It would be fun to see if he could take advantage of the chance to play or if he would remind us why he’s been on the bench to this point in his career.

Is an outside move possible? Maybe. There aren’t a bunch of good O-linemen available though. Todd Herremans did get benched in Indy the other day. The Eagles could inquire about him, but if he was benched there, is he worth bringing back?

The other big news is that the Eagles are reportedly putting PK Cody Parkey on IR and signing Caleb Sturgis.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sturgis is fine inside of 40 yards, but his kicks are erratic beyond that. At this point, there aren’t great choices available. I’m sure Dave Fipp had a reason for wanting Sturgis.

Remember that Parkey was going to be cut by the Colts when the Eagles dealt for him. He wasn’t anything special at the time. Fipp liked something about him and the results were spectacular.

I doubt the Eagles will get the same kind of production from Sturgis. At this point, they’ll hope he can solidify the position and help the team to win some games.

One final injury update.

The development of Jordan Hicks makes this less critical, but Alonso is still the kind of talented player you want on the field. As we saw in the opener, he is a playmaker. Even in a limited role, he could be a big help.

I’m hearing mixed things. Keep your fingers crossed for good news.


Deja Vu All Over Again

Posted: September 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 209 Comments »

This is 2015, right?

Are you sure it isn’t 2003?

The Eagles started 2003  0-2. Those were ugly losses with the offense looking anemic. Then the team went on the road against an AFC East opponent and won ugly, 23-13. The next week they played the Skins.

This team started 0-2, with ugly losses and bad offense. They just went on the road and beat an AFC East team in an ugly game. Now the Eagles prepare to play the Skins. There’s just something funny about the way history sometimes repeats itself.

Those Eagles went 12-2 after the opening losses. There was a 9-game winning streak. Donovan McNabb looked awful early on, but by the end of the season was in a real groove and executed the West Coast Offense about as well as you could hope.

We have no idea how this team will pan out. They’re 1-2 and just a game out of 1st place. The only team ahead of them is missing a lot of firepower right now so things are basically wide open.

The 2003 team was built around the 3-headed monster at RB. Duce Staley was the established veteran. Correll Buckhalter was the young runner with size and power. Brian Westbrook was the electric player, just emerging onto the NFL scene after a quiet rookie year. Jim Johnson’s defense was very banged up and didn’t play to their normal level. Still, they were opportunistic and played just well enough for the team to keep winning.

Does any of that sound familiar?

The 2015 Eagles have more talent than that team did. Whether they have as much “it” remains to be seen. The 2003 team had been together for a few years. Andy Reid knew that team well. They knew each other. Those players had won big games together. That helped them to get through the rough start.

The current team is still very much figuring things out. There are a lot of key pieces learning to play together. At least I hope that is a lot of what’s wrong with the passing game. Sam Bradford had another sloppy performance. This offense is not going to move the ball consistently until Bradford and the receivers help each other out. He makes a bad throw. They drop a pass. Repeat.

I need to re-watch the game carefully to fully comment on Bradford. His play deserves its own post. Still, it doesn’t take film study to see he was sloppy on Sunday.

It was encouraging to see the O-line come alive and handle their business against a stout Jets front. There were plays when Eagles blockers were pushed around. That will happen when you go against a big, strong D-line like the Jets have. The Eagles OL did a good job in pass protection and were effective as run blockers. That helped the offense open up and have some success.

Sunday was the first time when this team was really dealing with adversity. Dropping to 0-3 would have really hurt the season. Going on the road to face a rejuvenated Jets team made for a tough challenge. It sure felt like that challenge brought out the best in the Eagles.

You saw stars making big plays. You saw role players making big plays. Everyone contributed. This really was a team effort. Sometimes you need to  hit rock bottom for a team to finally come together. That happened for the 2003 Eagles. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out for the current team.

For now, there is hope. And that’s a good start.


Cody Parkey aggravated a groin injury so now the team is looking to sign a potential replacement for him. The Eagles worked out several.

Fantastic, right? Just what the team needs.

Big Day for the D

Posted: September 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 396 Comments »

The Eagles gave up 20 points in the 1st half of the season opener. Since then, they have allowed 36 points in 10 quarters. That’s good defense, especially when you consider that the offense still isn’t exactly sustaining drives and helping them to stay off the field.

Nobody will be calling this bunch Gang Green II any time soon, but they are showing real signs of improvement from the past couple of years.

The Jets ran 75 plays, generated 323 yards and 17 points.

The Eagles defense came up with 1 sack, 2 TFLs, 9 PDs, 2 FFs and 4 takeaways. Beyond the stats, they seemed to come up with key plays at key moments. I think all of Eagles Nation was ready to lose it when Ryan Mathews fumbled late in the game. A few plays later, the Eagles take the ball right back. That was a huge moment in the game. Keep in mind that the defense did that while missing Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks, Kiko Alonso and Taylor Hart.

Backups and role players had a big day. Jordan Hicks, a player more than a few fans hated during the draft, had a terrific game. He led the team with 10 tackles and had a hand in 2 takeaways. He picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. Brandon Bair went from inactive to starting at LDE. He deflected 3 passes, one of which was picked off by Hicks. Rookie Eric Rowe got used in Dime sets. He broke up one pass and picked off another. The INT came in the end zone.

When a team is trying to come off an 0-2 start, they need everybody to do their part. You could really see this with the defense. Just about everyone who played contributed to some key play in the game.

No one is saying the Jets are some juggernaut offense and the Eagles played a great game, but the defense came up big on a day when it was needed.



As good as the win was, there is still a lot of work to be done. This win didn’t save the season. It bought the team another week to get their act together.

This team hasn’t come close to playing up to their talent. They got started in the right direction today, but they still have a long way to go.

The offense didn’t score a point in the 2nd half. As good as the defense was, a 24-0 lead turned into a 24-17 finish. Receivers dropped key passes. Sam Bradford was off target with a couple of throws. There is still too much sloppy football. That has to change if this team is going to have a successful season.

The Eagles showed signs of life on Sunday. They’re only a game out of the division lead. Things are wide open, but the Eagles must start playing good football. Winning ugly is fine if your goal is to stay in the playoff hunt. Chip Kelly wants more than that and this team has the potential to be more than that.

I do think winning a game will allow the players to exhale, so to speak. When things aren’t going well, it seems the weight of the world is on your shoulders. The media was looking for scapegoats and compelling story lines every day. The players no longer have to answer questions about being 0-2. They no longer have to discuss the awful run game. And so on.

For the fist time in a while, there is something good to talk about.

I’m sure SalPal will still find some salacious angle to obsess on for the next 6 days.


Eagles Win !!!

Posted: September 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 232 Comments »

Okay, it wasn’t beautiful. The offense disappeared for most of the 2nd half. The Jets made some bonehead mistakes that helped the Eagles out.

But the Eagles made just enough plays to win.

Give them credit for taking advantage of favorable situations. That didn’t happen in the first two weeks.

And let’s also give a ton of credit to the Eagles defense. Missing 3 starters, the group went out there and out-played the Jets and their more heralded defense.

The first two weeks were team losses. This was a team win, with contributions from offense, defense and STs.

The Eagles did not play well today, but they played well enough to win. That’s good enough for now. The team has to build on this, but getting that first win was critical.

Some actual analysis coming later.