Posted: May 14th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 53 Comments »
The Eagles signed RB Felix Jones to a 1-year deal. No word on the money yet, but I’m willing to bet it is a tad less than a mega-deal. Could be vet minimum with some incentives.
Jones is a good addition. The Eagles have an elite RB in Shady McCoy. Bryce Brown had a strong rookie season and has big time potential. After that, things are less certain. Chris Polk has potential, but must show he can handle the wear and tear of the NFL. UDFA RBs Miguel Maysonet and Matthew Tucker are completely unproven.
Jones is here to fight for the #3 RB job, but his presence can also help keep Brown focused. Think of all the young players we’ve seen have a sophomore slump because they didn’t handle rookie success well. I hope Brown is hungry and driven, but there are no guarantees. Polk and the UDFAs will battle Jones for roster spots and playing time.
The Eagles might keep 3 RBs. They might keep 4, but that will only happen if there are 4 guys who deserve the spots. In the Reid era keeping that many RBs was a waste, but things will be different under Chip Kelly. He wants to run more plays and he wants to run the ball more.
Last year the Eagles ran 67 plays a game. That breakdown might go like this. Shady was the RB for 50. Brown for 10. The other 7 would be empty sets or some odd formation with a WR in the backfield. Kelly hopes to run 75 to 80 plays a game. He might have Shady on the field for 45 snaps, the backup 20, and the #3 RB for 10. These are just guesstimates, but it gives you an idea of how things will be different.
Here is some stuff I posted over on EaglesBlog when the Eagles worked Jones out recently.
Interesting news. There were many who thought Jones should have been the Eagles primary target in the 1st round in 2008. Ray Didinger was on the Jones bandwagon in a big way. Here’s what he had to say back then:
“Draft Felix Jones, the electrifying running back from Arkansas. I actually like him better than his more celebrated teammate Darren McFadden, who will be drafted in the top 10. Jones is 5-10, 207 pounds and unlike McFadden, who is all straight line speed, Jones has explosive lateral quickness that, in my opinion, will make him more dangerous at the next level.
Jones averaged 8.7 yards per rushing attempt last season at Arkansas, the highest average in college football in more than a decade. He outran some of the fastest defenses in the nation in the SEC and he also excelled on special teams. He set the school record for kickoff return yardage, and he tied the conference mark (previously set by Tennessee’s Willie Gault) with four kickoff returns for touchdowns.
So Jones would help the Eagles immediately as a kick returner, and, as a clone of Brian Westbrook, he could share the load in the backfield. Like Westbrook, he is almost impossible to defend in space, and although they didn’t throw the ball to the backs much in the Razorback offense, he has proven he has good hands. (He actually started several games at a wide receiver the past two seasons).
One other thing: If the Eagles can’t acquire another wide receiver, either via trade or draft, drafting Jones could help fill that void. How? Put together an offensive package with Jones lined up in the backfield and Westbrook at wide receiver. I’m not suggesting that should be the base offense, you wouldn’t want to put that much pressure on a rookie, but you could certainly design a set of plays with both of them on the field, and it would be a nightmare for a defensive coordinator.”
Jones had an up and down career with Dallas. There were times when he looked special, but he could never play to that level on a consistent basis. The Eagles would look at Jones as a role player and possible KOR.
Jones is an odd player. He had big time speed and made some explosive runs, but has only scored 11 rushing TDs in 5 years. Think of him as the anti-Emmitt Smith I guess. Smith lacked top speed, but was a TD machine and workhorse back. Jones has 569 career carries. Smith would hit that total in 1.5 years.
The other interesting note is that despite having 5 years of experience, Jones just turned 26 years old. He’s not a guy that has been over-used, but wear and tear has affected Jones. His yards per carry and yards per KOR were the lowest totals of his career in 2012.
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In order to sign Jones, the Eagles cut WR Marvin McNutt.
In my 2012 draft preview I had him listed as a player for the Eagles not to draft. McNutt was being talked about as a 3rd, maybe 4th round player. I didn’t see that level of talent. He struggled as a Senior when going up against good CBs. That was a red flag to me. Could he handle NFL corners? The Eagles took him in the 6th round, which didn’t bother me. At that point, he was okay value. Sadly, he never did pan out as hoped.
Here is his one “highlight” as an Eagle. (h/t to BleedingGreenNation)
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I’m working on a Brandon Graham post for later today. He is the backup SAM for now, but as Chip Kelly would say…it is just mid-May.
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Jimmy Bama has a good post up on yesterday’s practice. Wait til you see his QB artistry. Michael Vick is hilarious. Truly great stuff.
Sheil Kapadia put up a great piece on practice. He told it in the form of a timeline story. Must read material.
Les Bowen wrote about the QB Battle and practice.
Jeff McLane shared his observations.
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As always, keep checking EaglesBlog for updates on misc topics.
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 64 Comments »
Monday was the first day for the full Eagles squad to practice together. The media was able to watch and share some good info on what went on.
As always, things must be put in the proper context. Chip Kelly likes to point out this is May 13th and the season starts in September. A lot can and will change between now and then. The coaches are in the process of teaching the systems and trying to get the players indoctrinated in the Chip Kelly way of doing things. Do not make too much of anything that did or didn’t happen today.
OL depth chart for now:
LT Jason Peters – LG Danny Watkins – C Dallas Reynolds – RG Todd Herremans – RT Dennis Kelly
LT Ed Wang – LG Allen Barbre – C Matt Tennant – RG Matt Kopa – RT Lane Johnson
Why Kelly over Johnson? I think this is just a matter of Kelly being more advanced. Johnson will be the RT before too long. Since Kelly wants things to move at a brisk pace, it is easier to go with veteran players over rookies for now. As each practice goes along and the players become more comfortable with things, being a veteran will mean less. This could be days from now or a couple of weeks.
I do think it is interesting to see Wang at LT. Coming out of college, I thought he projected to RT or OG. I see him as a longshot to make the team, but it will be interesting to see how he plays now that he’s been around the league for a few years.
Jason Kelce was at practice and participated in some limited sets. He’s still on the mend from a torn ACL.
There weren’t any major surprises with the pass catchers. Ifeanyi Momah, Derek Carrier, and BJ Cunningham didn’t practice since they had run so many routes in the last 3 days. Dave Spadaro mentioned that Arrelious Benn was on the field with the starters quite a bit. Dave also mentioned that James Casey looked great and Clay Harbor was impressive. I was happy to hear that there were blocking drills for the WRs. Kelly is going to emphasize blocking this year. The WRs need to know that up front.
There isn’t too much to say about the QBs. Reports indicated that Dennis Dixon looked the most comfortable with running the offense (due to his experience with Kelly). Mike Vick got most of the snaps with the starters, but Nick Foles got plenty as well. Several people said Matt Barkley’s arm strength was not an issue. Adam Caplan mentioned that he saw a couple of throws that lacked ideal zip.
There was plenty of zone-read being mixed in. Some people are making too much of this. You have to teach it now so you can run it during the season. The fact you are teaching it doesn’t mean that it will be a major part of the offense, though. Chip Kelly is going to mix it in, no matter who the QB is. If Foles or Barkley get the job, there will be much less of it. Still, you must teach the offense how to run this. Remember that this isn’t a play the offense is familiar with. The QBs know how to throw every pass. Zone-read is something new. You must work on new concepts.
Now for the defense.
Here is what we heard for the DL and LBs in terms of depth chart.
DL #1 – LDE Cedric Thornton – NT Isaac Sopoaga – RDE Fletcher Cox
DL #2 – LDE Clifton Geathers – NT Antonio Dixon – RDE Vinny Curry
LB #1 – SAM Connor Barwin – ILB DeMeco Ryans – WILB Mychal Kendricks – Predator Trent Cole
LB # 2 – OLB Brandon Graham – ILB Jason Phillips – WILB Jamar Chaney – OLB Phillip Hunt
I’m unsure about who was SAM/Predator with the backups. Dave did mention that he thought UDFA Jake Knott got a lot of reps at ILB. I’m guessing he would be at WILB. Knott was a playmaker in college and that’s more of a playmaking role.
I’m guessing Bennie Logan was the #3 NT, but don’t know that for sure.
There were quite a few different packages. There was one with 4 DL where Thornton played LDE with Sopoaga, Cox, and Cole as the other 3 guys. Seattle runs the 4-3 Under with 4 down linemen and uses DT Red Bryant as the LDE so using Thornton in that role isn’t a new idea.
Trent Cole got a few snaps at DE in 3-man looks. There were some 4-man sets with Cole and Graham at DE.
The starting Safeties were Nate Allen and Patrick Chung. The backups were Kenny Phillips and Kurt Coleman.
CB Cary Williams got married on Sunday so he is on his honeymoon and missed practice. Curtis Marsh replaced him with the starters. I think this is more of a chance to see him in action rather than a sign the coaches are high on him. Marsh did say that they played a lot of press and that he is comfortable with that. Bradley Fletcher was the other CB. The backups were Brandon Hughes and Brandon Boykin.
Special Teams is an area where the Eagles must get better this year. Jimmy Bama noted on Twitter that STs was mixed in throughout practice rather than being done at the end, which is how Reid did things. Donnie Jones reportedly showed a stronger leg than Brad Wing. DeSean Jackson was back on punt returns. Other guys who got a look there were Jeremy Maclin, Damaris Johnson, and Nick Miller.
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The practices were very up-tempo. Many of those watching were very impressed at how briskly things moved. Adam Caplan said on Eagles Live that he’s seen at least 10 other NFL teams practices over the years and he’s never seen anything like this.
Much was made of the fact that music blared through much of practice. Writers tweeted out each song and seemed very caught up in that angle. I hope this is a one time thing. The music is here for the long haul. I’m more interested in what’s going on on the field rather than what’s blaring out of the speakers.
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The Eagles cut OL Matt Reynolds and signed OL Nic Purcell, who tried out for the team this weekend. Purcell is a very interesting prospect. He might have LT potential.
The Carolina Panthers cut OLB Thomas Keiser. He played LB and DE for them. Keiser had 4 sacks in 2011 and impressed. He had elbow injuries that hurt him in 2012. Keiser (6-4, 265) play OLB for Stanford’s 3-4 defense in college and is a more natural fit for the 3-4 in the NFL. He could be someone the Eagles take a look at. Kelly will know a bit about him from the Oregon/Stanford days.
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 22 Comments »
OTAs are underway and the media is there. Here are a few nuggets of interest.
OL so far is Peters – Watkins – Reynolds – Herremans – Kelly
OLBs are Connor Barwin and Trent Cole.
Safeties are Nate Allen and Patrick Chung.
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We don’t know a lot about the defense, but an interesting report came out today about takeaways in college football. Guess who led the nation in takeaways over the last 4 years? Oregon, of course.
Kelly didn’t coach the defense at Oregon. He was hands-off. Still, he helped with things from an overall perspective. Kelly recruited the types of players he wanted and certainly had to talk a lot about the fact he wanted an aggressive, playmaking defense. The Ducks had 131 takeaways over the last 4 years. Oklahoma State was second with 130.
One thing you would certainly think would factor in is the fact Oregon played with a lead the vast majority of the time. That forced offenses to throw the ball to try to score and keep up with them. More passes equals more chances for sacks and interceptions.
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It sounds like the Eagles cut Ronnie Cameron.
“Loved Wearing Green for the Eagles and I thank them for an opportunity of a lifetime, I wish them nothing but the best moving forward!”
The Eagles did cut Cameron and WR DeMarco Sampson. They signed former Oregon WR Will Murphy (6-2, 193) and DE Daryell Walker (6-6. 285) from Hampton. Both Murphy and Walker were tryout players.
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I’ll put up a longer post today. I need to see/read more on practice before writing a long post.
It is exciting to get some football news.
Posted: May 11th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 39 Comments »
You have rookie camp where the media can’t watch the practices and the 1st round pick is a RT, the 2nd rounder a TE, and the 3rd rounder a DE/DT tweener. So guess who gets all the attention? That’s right…the 4th round QB, Mr. Matt Barkley.
The good news is that Barkley is ready for this. He was the starting QB at Mater Dei for 4 years. That’s a huge deal in the high school football world. He then went to USC and became the first true Freshman to start his first game. Barkley started all 4 years in one of the most high profile jobs in the college football world. He might look like a young man, but he’s not. That is a veteran QB who knows how to handle the media. Seemingly, even the Philly media.
He was asked a variety of questions. Barkley handled them all well. One writer was trying to get Barkley to talk about the QB’s responsibilities in the Chip Kelly offense, hoping Barkley might share some secrets. Barkley told the guy he couldn’t get into specifics and gave a generic answer. Another writer asked if the offense looked the same as the one he saw Kelly run at Oregon, again looking for some inside info. Barkley deflected that and said the offense was a bit of this and a bit of that.
The average person might not see this as a big deal, but I think there is something to it. One of the big transitions most players go through when they come to the NFL is dealing with a bigger and more aggressive media. You are no longer a college kid who the media should give a break to. You are now a spoiled pro athlete that is fair game for intense scrutiny. Ryan Leaf was very popular at Washington State. He carried that team on his back to the Rose Bowl. He was a great college player and had some personality. He was a hero in college. Leaf got to the NFL and suddenly couldn’t win. The questions went from positive to negative and he couldn’t handle it. And that was just San Diego, not Philly, New York, or Boston.
What I saw and heard from Barkley on Friday was a player who is ready for the big time from a mental and emotional standpoint. Check out a few more quotes.
In regard to Michael Vick and Nick Foles:
“You come in as a teammate to them, not as a fan,” Barkley said. “You come in as someone who is ready to compete against them, at the same time . . . It’s going to be good competition for all of us, competing against each other, just making each other better.”
Asked about sliding in the draft:
“The fact is that I’m here, and I have a shot to play on the field this year.”
Here is the whole video.
You can tell that Barkley has a chip on his shoulder, but it seems to be in a good way. He’s not bitter and angry. He’s driven. Only time will really tell, but he came across as a player who is genuinely happy to be playing for the Eagles and Chip Kelly. He seems to get that going a couple of rounds later than expected is only a big deal if he lets it be a big deal. Barkley’s career won’t be defined by when he was picked, but rather by how he plays.
Let’s talk about his slide for a minute. I’ve been thinking about this more and more. The perception feels like “Barkley was there…he was too good to pass up…take him”. That’s not the deal at all.
Howie Roseman explained after the draft that the Eagles did try to trade up into the late 3rd round to get Barkley. The Eagles had him rated as a Top 50 player. He was probably in the 41-50 range or else they would have said “we had him rated as a Top 40 player”. The Eagles felt like he would probably go in the early to mid-2nd round. They had a chance to take him at pick 67, but instead went with DL Bennie Logan. That means the Eagles clearly had a higher grade on Logan. If the grades were close, you always take the QB. I would guess Logan was rated maybe 10 spots higher. That’s kinda interesting in and of itself.
I’m sure passing on Barkley at 67 wasn’t easy, but the Eagles stayed true to the board. They saw Barkley continue to sit there for the taking. I’m sure Roseman would have loved to deal into the middle 3rd to get him, but that would have eaten up serious resources. There were too many holes to fill to make a deal like that. Once it got to be late in the 3rd round, the Eagles saw that they could afford to move up and Howie started really working the phones. The problem is that those teams all had players they wanted and weren’t moving back.
Friday’s action came to a close. Howie started talking to teams about moving up on Saturday morning. He made plans with Jacksonville and had a backup plan with KC. Howie knew he had to get in front of the Raiders if he really wanted Barkley, which he did. The Eagles traded with the Jags and Barkley became an Eagle.
Another key part of this is that the Eagles had checked Barkley out extensively. Kelly saw him up close for 4 years. Roseman scouted him in person on annual trips to USC. He was high on Barkley last year, had Matt come out. The Eagles met with Barkley at the Combine and said he had a great interview. Then they sent QB coach Bill Lazor to USC to work him out.
This doesn’t mean Barkley is a Top 10 player the Eagles got and he’s a sure-fire star. I do think it is important to note the Eagles level of interest in Matt prior to the draft. Too often when we talk about a value pick it feels like the equivalent of going to the grocery store to buy a 12-pack of PBR and seeing a pack of pork chops that are on sale cheap. You had no intention of getting them, but it was just too good a deal not to take. This is more like going to the store and wanting the chops, but thinking you simply couldn’t afford them. You then go see that a pack of chops is still there and the price fits your budget. Now you’ve got PBR and pork chops (we call that Christmas in my family).
None of this erases the fact that Barkley did fall in the draft and that not all NFL teams are sold on him. Barkley could prove to be the Eagles starting QB or he could just be a career backup. This is all up to him.
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Tim McManus wrote a piece on Barkley after speaking with Trent Dilfer. This goes back a few days, but is absolutely worth checking out.
Dilfer is very high on Barkley. Dilfer was also very high on Foles last year. He actually thought Nick should have been a 1st round pick. I didn’t see that out of Foles, but he did play better than I expected last year.
Dilfer said some interesting things about Barkley. One stood out.
“There is not a lot of difference between Matt Barkley and Eli Manning in their senior film,” said Dilfer. “In fact, I would argue that Matt’s college film is slightly better than Eli’s film.”
Uh….no way. Not even close. I had Eli Manning rated as the #1 player in 2004. I had Barkley rated as a 3rd round player this year. Eli looked like a franchise QB. There were no major holes in his game. Trent is certainly a smart guy and welcome to his opinion, but that’s a really crazy statement to me.
I hope Dilfer is right with the comparison, in terms of how the NFL careers worked out.
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Cecil Lammey of FootballGuys.com has up a piece on Barkley and the Kelly offense. I think you’ll like his conclusion.
“All of these traits – deep accuracy, mobility, intelligence, and quick decisions- are PERFECT for this system.”
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PE.com has a piece on Gocong with a couple of quotes. I’d love to see him on the move so we could get a feel for what kind of shape he’s in. The good news is that his Achilles injury was last summer. He’s had plenty of time to rehab it and get ready for 2013.
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Jimmy Bama and I did a new show. We talked about Matt Barkley, Chris Gocong, SAM, Felix Jones, and some other things. Part of the show was about Jimmy’s bizarre feet. My apologies for that.
Posted: May 11th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 33 Comments »
Day 1 of rookie camp is in the books and my sources tell me all the rookies looked great and should be first ballot Hall of Famers. That’s great news, of course. I worried that David King might not make it until his third or fourth try.
So what do we really know? Not much. PE.com has up a slew of videos. 2 of them show the players in action, although that is probably a generous description. Clearly Chip Kelly only let limited footage out. You can’t really see much, beyond Bennie Logan dominating a trash can.
As I mentioned earlier, the first 3 days aren’t a period for evaluation. This is an introduction. Rookies get there first taste of NFL practice. The one thing almost all of them said was that things moved even faster than they expected. Part of that is life in the NFL, part is life with Chip Kelly. NFL practices are up tempo. Kelly’s are really up tempo.
The real test for the rookies is going to be Monday, when they get to practice with the whole team.
No word on any of the tryout guys. Chris Gocong was on the field for the first time since last summer. We didn’t get to see him in action and I’ve not heard anything. Gocong is worth discussing again. The Eagles drafted him in 2006. Gocong played DE at Cal-Poly and the Eagles were going to make him a SAM. Gocong had the frame to set the edge. He had a great motor and would chase plays all over the field. He was a good pass rusher in college, but that was based on speed/effort more than skill. The one thing he needed to do was develop cover skills.
Gocong started for 2 years and was an ascending player heading into 2009. That’s when things got weird. He started the season pretty well. He then got hurt and missed a game. Moise Fokou took his spot. The next week Gocong came back and Sean McDermott tried him at MLB. That was just an odd move and major failure. Gocong went back to SAM and then got benched late in the year when McDermott decided he wanted a 230-pound player that could move and cover better. Oops. The defense shut down SF with Fokou, but the last 3 games of the year weren’t so good. Teams averaged 28 points per game in those contests. The D had played better with Gocong.
Gocong played ILB, WLB, and SAM in his 2 years with the Browns. He was more of a playmaker for them. He would be most natural at SAM with the Eagles. Gocong has never had the chance to play OLB in the 3-4, which would seem to be his best fit. I hope he’s able to impress the coaches and get a full roster spot. That wouldn’t mean he was on the final team, but would give him a chance to prove himself this summer and in the preseason.
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Jordan Poyer didn’t run well at the Combine. Due to that, some think he might be more of a nickel back than an outside corner. I think the Eagles drafted him with the intention of playing him outside. If he is overwhelmed there, they can move him to the slot and let him compete with Brandon Boykin. Or Poyer could move to FS.
I’ve written a couple of times about how Bill Davis used big DBs in Arizona. He turned Matt Ware into a good role player. Davis was creative with Antrel Rolle and found a good role for him. Poyer isn’t as big as him, but Davis will find a way to use a player he likes. This very much fits into Chip Kelly’s disdain for generic labels. If Poyer can play, the Eagles will find a way to get him on the field.
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Off topic, but a bit interesting. Darnell Dockett recently said that if Ray Horton had stayed in Arizona, Dockett would have requested a trade. He felt that Horton asked him to play too conservative a role and that took away his ability to make plays. Ray Horton is a good coach, but I have felt the hype with him is a bit much. In 2011, Arizona was 18th in Yds, 17th in Pts. In 2012, they were 12th in Yds, 17th in Pts. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but Horton is a guy that has been labeled as a defensive guru when that is very much up for debate.
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Someone asked if there would be any problem with Vinny Curry playing LB while wearing #75. Not that I know of. The NFL is picky with numbers, but the Eagles could get around that if they simply listed Curry on the roster as a DE/LB.
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Baloophi asked this in the previous comments section:
“If Kenny Tate performs well and earns a spot, will his supporters refer to themselves as taters?”
The answer is YES!!!
For those who don’t know, the primary section on the Eagles Message Board is called TATE (Talk about the Eagles). The people who post there a lot are called TATErs, and it has a negative connotation. I always considered myself a TATEr and I’ll stick up for my many brothers and sisters.
The real controversy is Tate. He is known as Kenny, but prefers to be called Kenneth. Why on earth would anyone choose Kenneth over Kenny? All I can say is this…what’s the frequency?
(how’s that for an obscure reference?)