Just Like We Thought

Posted: September 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 217 Comments »

What a game. The 1st half was a nightmare. Nick Foles looked like the guy from the first Dallas game of 2013. He held the ball forever and then was off-target when he did throw it. The defense and STs did everything they could and the game was “only” 17-0 at the half.

The 2nd half was about as good as life gets. The Eagles outscored the Jags 34-0 and totally dominated the game. Foles still wasn’t sharp, but played well enough and got help from everyone, including the Jags.

This was an ugly win. And it could prove costly in the form of injuries.

Allen Barbre also went out for the game. He had an ankle injury. We’ll have to see how that situation pans out. The Eagles OL was very stable last year. Clearly that won’t be the case this season.

The Eagles did show us something today. Last year they tended to build up big leads and then had to hold on for a tight win. Today they dug a major hole and were able to climb out of it. That shows a mental and emotional toughness that not all teams have. I’d prefer smooth sailing in most games, but you do learn a lot about your team when they are tested like this.

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How bad do the Jags and Jags fans feel right now? Wow.

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The STs were pretty special.

* 51-yd FG

* 5 touchbacks

* A couple of long PRs that set up scoring drives. 15.5 yds per PR for the game.

* A blocked FG by Brandon Bair. Very convenient of the Jags STs to show Oregon bias by letting Bair block that kick and none of the other Eagles.

* Boykin downed a punt at the 1.

More of this please.

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Overall, today was a good day.

* The Skins lost to the Texans 17-6. The Eagles defense outscored the Skins offense 7 to 6. Nice.

* DeSean Jackson lost 9 yards on an end around. He was 8-62 as a receiver, with a long of 17 yards.

* Dallas is down 21-3 and Tony Romo already has 2 INTs.

* The Saints lost to the Falcons in OT. Conference losses for the Saints are a good thing.

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KC lost and bad. I’m actually not anti-KC or Andy, but I know some of you are. It is interesting that both the Eagles and Chiefs fell behind early. The Chiefs couldn’t do anything about it and lost 26-10. The Eagles were able to right the ship and then dominate. The Chiefs had a terrific season in 2013, but I’m still not sold that they are a good team.

To make matters worse, the Chiefs lost DL Mike DeVito and ILB Derrick Johnson for the season. Not a good start for Big Red and his new team. Good luck to them.

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I’ll have some insight on the game tonight. I need to watch Dallas play for now. My kind of game.


JAX 17, PHI 0 – 2nd Half

Posted: September 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 537 Comments »

What an absolute disaster. I am in a state of shock. I could see the team playing sloppy and being down, but Nick Foles looks like a rookie with no idea of what to do. The OL wasn’t playing lights out, and then the injuries came. Evan Mathis is out for the game. RT Allen Barbre might be. For now you are looking at Peters – Molk – Kelce – Herremans – Gardner.

The defense has played the run well, but the pass coverage has been awful. Looks like Bradley Fletcher got benched for Nolan Carroll and Cary Williams has been just dreadful.

Chip Kelly needs to work his magic. I can deal with a loss, but I need to see Foles wake up and get going.

This is still a winnable game. The Eagles get the ball first. If they can go score and make the game 17-7, that would shift some pressure to the Jags. The game has been easy for Chad Henne and Jacksonville so far. Put some pressure on them and see how they respond.

I don’t bench Foles. He’s your guy. You have to let him play his way out of this. If things continue to be awful and the game is 31-7 or something like that in the 4th Qtr, I’m okay with pulling him and putting in a backup to simply finish the game out. I’m not benching Foles to see if someone else can spark the team.

Hopefully Nick will get going and this becomes a moot discussion.


Enjoy the Ride

Posted: September 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 488 Comments »

Someday the Eagles are going to win the Super Bowl. They may go 14-2 and dominate on the way to that happening. They might go 11-5 and look good. They could go 9-7 and pull off a huge surprise. The point is that you never know which year is going to be the magical year. Try to enjoy the ride.

This could be a special season for the Eagles. At the very least, let’s hope it is a fun one.

Go Eagles!!!

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Inactives are in:

QB Matt Barkley
RB Chris Polk
WR Josh Huff
OL Dennis Kelly
OL Matt Tobin

DE Taylor Hart
DB Jaylen Watkins

Polk is the one that grabs your attention. That means that there are only 2 RBs active, Sproles and Shady. Trey Burton can play RB if needed. Brad Smith can take direct snaps and run the ball.

It is good that Marcus Smith is active and playing. I’m hoping we see him on D and STs.

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Everyone feels pretty confident today. Anyone nervous about this game?


Getting Close

Posted: September 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 93 Comments »

We’re less than 24 hours from kickoff. Anyone excited?

The night before the opener I normally dream about the game. It is often a nightmare where the game is on and for some reason I am not able to see it. As you might imagine, that would be pure torture for me. The last time I missed an entire football game was the 1994 season finale against the Bengals. It was on a Christmas weekend and the family demanded I be there for lunch. They saw my misery that day and have never come close to asking for that again. I’m pretty sure they know what the answer would be anyway.

The big news of the day is that Jags WR Cecil Shorts will miss the game. That means the top 3 WRs will be rookies Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. That doesn’t bode well for the Jags, but those are some talented receivers. You just wonder if one of them will make a mental mistake that will lead to a big problem. Maybe the rookie doesn’t run his route precisely. Maybe the rookie fails to make a blitz adjustment. Maybe he misses an audible. Rookies have to adjust to the physical challenges of the NFL, but the mental side of the game is probably the most overwhelming part.

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I watched NFL Matchup this morning. Merrill Hoge focused on the playoff loss to the Saints and how that gave defenses a blueprint on how to shut down the Eagles.

That was some fast food analysis.

The Saints did shut the Eagles down for part of the game, but the Eagles eventually got on track and the offense left the field with the lead. Give the Saints a ton of credit for how well they played, but let’s not act like the game was a shutout where the Eagles got completely dominated. I’ve watched those games before. The 2000 playoff loss to the Giants. The 2003 playoff loss to the Panthers. The 1992 and 1995 playoff losses to Dallas. Those were games where the offense was held to a single TD or less. It looked like the Eagles were a level below the competition.

The loss to the Saints felt more like a case of coming up short in a big moment. Guys made mistakes they normally didn’t. Riley Cooper had a terrible drop. Evan Mathis missed a blitzer. Nick Foles made poor decisions. The Saints were responsible for some of this, but I also think the pressure of the playoffs got to the Eagles early on.

Time will tell if defenses have solved Kelly and the Eagles offense. My guess is “no”. One of Kelly’s strengths in college was making adjustments. I think that will continue in the NFL.

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Many of you like to ask about Brandon Boykin and what kind of a future he’s got in Philly. Geoff Mosher talked to Boykin and got some interesting answers.

Would Boykin be tempted to spurn a generous Eagles offer next spring for the promise of more cash and the chance to play outside when his contract expires in 2015?

It’s a fair question — for seven months down the road. Boykin gets the question daily. His answers remain consistent. He doesn’t look ahead, doesn’t count hundreds in his head at night, doesn’t seek to add distractions.

“That happened to me during the draft,” he said. “You start talking about what could happen or what should happen, and then I broke my leg and all that [stuff] changed. So that taught me not to look ahead to anything.

“Then I get to the league and just knowing how the league is, you’ve got to prepare literally one day at a time. Any day everything could change, so anybody that looks ahead like that, it’s not good for you. It really isn’t.”

Smart answer. Don’t worry about that situation until it comes up. Just go play the best you can for now. All I can say is if the Eagles feel that Boykin is truly that good, they’ll eventually get him on the field as a starter. The one word of caution is that just because you are really good in the slot doesn’t mean you’ll be that good outside. Would you have ever wanted Joselio Hanson outside? No way. Boykin is better than Hanson, but I’m not sure that he’s meant to be a starter on the outside.

I also enjoyed this note.

“I consider myself a playmaker. I wouldn’t say that I’m the best, but there is so much that has to happen on the defense for me to get interceptions or pass breakups,” he said. “On the defensive line, Fletcher Cox probably caused like four of my picks last year.

That’s 4 plays where Cox didn’t get a sack, but did create a turnover. Impressive. Some fans think Cox didn’t play well last year. He did lead the team in QB pressures and had more of an impact than many realize.

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Here is a great piece by Jeff McLane on the Eagles work schedule during the week. Great info, if you like knowing the nuts and bolts of the NFL world.

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One final reminder about the Eagles Almanac. If you need something to read tonight or tomorrow morning to get you up to speed on the Eagles, this is it.

I’ve gotten permission to post one of my pieces. I wrote about the similarities and differences of the 1995 and 2013 Eagles.  For your viewing pleasure…    Read the rest of this entry »

What About the Defense?

Posted: September 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 240 Comments »

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday about football. He is a degenerate Giants fan (isn’t that the only kind?) and we were talking smack about our respective teams. His Eagles slam was that we had no defense. That was true for part of last year, but not even the whole 2013 season. The defense made big strides in the second half of the season and played well at times. Still, there is no question that the defense needs to take a major step forward.

I think some people were surprised when the Eagles returned so many starters and key role players. This is where you have to understand that improvement doesn’t always come through change. Sometimes stability is needed. That way players have a chance to develop as individuals, as well as developing some chemistry as a group.

This is the first time in Nate Allen’s career that he’s in the same scheme with the same coordinator and position coach for 2 years in a row. Mychal Kendricks moved around in college and then played OLB as a rookie, before going back to ILB last year. He’s in the same spot for the second year and that will help him. All the players who had to make the 4-3 to 3-4 conversion should be a lot more comfortable this time around. They actually know what they are doing.

The Eagles did bring in help. Malcolm Jenkins was the priority free agent signing. The team liked him as a player, but also valued his versatility and his leadership skills. Jenkins has done well working with Allen and Earl Wolff this summer. You can see that he’s a natural leader.

Depth at CB was a major issue so the team signed Nolan Carroll and drafted Jaylen Watkins. That group is much better off than they were last year.

Depth at LB and DL also looks improved. Marcus Smith is going to be a role player early on, although some question if he’ll even dress. I’m expecting him to play in the opener. We’ll see how things go after that. I’m excited to watch Brandon Bair and Beau Allen play in real games. Both stood out this summer in a big way.

I think we’re all curious to see how Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham play this year. Curry will be a key role player from the get-go. Last year he was inactive for the first 2 games. The question with Curry is how good can he be. Graham shouldn’t play as much, but maybe he’s more improved than I think. Graham doesn’t have to play a bunch of snaps to make his presence felt. He needs to pressure the QB every chance he gets.

I do expect the defense to play better this year. I thought the tackling looked better this summer. That was a major issue last season. I am less confident about the 3rd down defense. Last season players caught underneath passes and had lots of room to run with the ball. We saw some of that early in the preseason.

In the final couple of games, the defense was outstanding. The Steelers couldn’t do squat in Week 3. The Jets were awful in the finale. Granted, neither team played starters, but it was still good to see the backups play that well. After all, many of those players will be mixed into sub-packages in real games. They will play.

If you watched the Packers last night, you saw the importance of defense. Green Bay was awful. They couldn’t set the edge on run plays. They couldn’t get off blocks. They couldn’t tackle. They bit on fakes and left receivers wide open. Ugh.

The Eagles showed they could play the run in the 2nd half of last year. They were physical up front, they flew to the ball and they tackled well. We need to see more of that in 2014.

The biggest area for improvement is rushing the passer. It would be great if the Eagles had that one dynamic guy that offenses feared. But they don’t. Trent Cole will do everything in his power to get to the QB, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Connor Barwin is more of a complete LB than just a pass rusher.

Fletcher Cox led the team in QB pressures last year and played better than people think. He didn’t have a great summer so I’m not sure what to expect from him. If he can take a step forward, Cox could make a huge difference for this defense. Cedric Thornton did very little as a rusher last year. He worked on that area in the offseason. We’ll see how that goes.

Curry and Graham offer instant impact. Do they play much as backups or mostly in sub-packages? The coaches must feel they can trust the duo to execute assignments in the base defense for them to play as backups. There is no question that they will be key parts of the Nickel and Dime defense.

One thing we’ve heard from Bill Davis and the players is that the defense will be more complex this season. Last year they had to keep things simple since the scheme was new and so different. Players now know what they are doing. That allowss the coaches to expand the playbook and be more aggressive.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the defense plays. I have complete faith in Chip Kelly and the offense. That group will move the ball and score points. A good defense could mean a 12-4 season. Another year of erratic, mediocre play could be 10-6 or even 9-7. I don’t anticipate the D suddenly being a Top 10 juggernaut, but I do think they will be better.