Good LB Play

Posted: October 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 118 Comments »

The 3-4 defense needs good LB play for the scheme to work. The LB play last year was all over the place and one of the reasons the defense was so erratic. This year the LBs have played pretty well, which makes it so surprising that the defense has continued to struggle.

Connor Barwin is a natural LB and has played well since signing with the Eagles. He had 2 sacks and a PD today. Trent Cole got off to a slow start last year, not getting a sack until the 9th game. This season he’s got 2.5 sacks and 3 FFs. Cole isn’t a dominant pass rusher anymore, but he has his moments and remains a great effort player. Cole’s strip sack led to a Cedric Thornton TD today.

Brandon Graham has taken a major step forward. I thought the Eagles had to trade him this summer, but they didn’t. And that looks pretty smart. He only has 1 sack, but has played better than that. He’s been an effective pass rusher. He also has 3 TFLs and 2 FFs. Graham is a more well-rounded player than in the past.

The ILBs are also playing well. DeMeco Ryans is playing to his usual level. Mychal Kendricks was having a breakout year before he got hurt. Hopefully he’ll be back for Sunday night. Casey Matthews had the best game of his NFL career today. I know that isn’t saying much, but give the guy credit for having solid game. He was second on the team in total tackles (6) and solo tackles (5). Emmanuel Acho had 3 solo tackles today and has played okay in helping to fill in for Kendricks.

Ryans did get banged up and miss some time today. I’m curious to see if the Rams successful drives late in the game came with Ryans missing.

The Eagles really could have used Kendricks in today’s game. St. Louis threw a bunch of short passes and had players running around the middle of the field. Kendricks speed could have helped on some of those plays. While Matthews and Acho were solid, they aren’t athletic or playmakers. You need that speed when playing a lot of Nickel and Dime, which is what happened when the game got to 34-7.

The Eagles still need more speed in the middle and back of the defense. It will take time to fix that.

* * * * *

Need a good laugh? Enjoy this.

Classic.


Roller Coaster Win

Posted: October 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 275 Comments »

The Eagles built up a 34-7 lead. Life was good.

And then the Eagles decided to make things interesting. The defense got sloppy. The offense got worse. Next thing you know it was 34-28 and the Eagles were holding on for dear life. Fortunately, the team was able to get a stop at the end of the game and seal the win.

Even when the Eagles led 34-7, the game wasn’t a barrel of fun. The offense was frustrating. Still, it was good to see the team get out to a big lead. The defense could then pin their ears back and attack. The offense could focus on running the ball.

There wasn’t a lot of cheering at the end. More like a huge sigh of relief. Blowing a game like this would have been pure torture.

While the Eagles made it closer than it ever should have been, they did win. And we can’t lose sight of that fact. Think about all the times that Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick led a comeback that came up just short. Those weren’t moral victories. They were losses. Today, the Eagles won. That doesn’t mean you ignore the frustration of letting St. Louis back in, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It isn’t very often that the Eagles get to 4-1. This is the first time since 2006.

We’re all frustrated with Nick Foles and some of his mistakes, but let’s keep things in context. He isn’t having some disastrously bad year. He’s highly inconsistent, but that is better than someone who consistently bad. Foles mistakes can be fixed. The offense put up 20 points today. This was nothing like last week’s shutout.

It is absolutely fair to be critical of him. Heck, Nick would agree with a lot of what you say. He watches the tape. He sees the issues. He’s a young QB and those guys can take some time to work through issues. As long as he’s playing reasonably well, you have to stick with your QB. This isn’t a position where you want to go back and forth and ride the hot hand. Foles does not need to be benched.

As long as you believe in the player, you stick with him. And Chip Kelly sure seems to believe in Nick Foles.

Some of you have asked me about Foles future. I have no idea right now. We have to let the season play out. If he gets back into a groove, you’ll see a hot QB and think he’s definitely the QB of the future. If he continues to be up and down, you’ve got a much tougher decision. The key is that you have to set those questions aside for now. Let Foles do his thing and see how the season turns out.

The only way you sit Foles is if he gets hurt or plays terrible. And for those who think he’s played terrible, you’re flat out nuts. Go watch Bobby Hoying from 1998, Doug Pederson from 1999 or Mike McMahon from 2005. That’s terrible QB play. Foles is frustrating and inconsistent, but there is still more good than bad.

There is plenty to fix, with Foles and the rest of the team. The good news is that the Eagles can work on that stuff while sitting at 4-1.

_


PHI 20 , STL 7 – 2nd Half

Posted: October 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 554 Comments »

LeSean McCoy started slow and had a terrible fumble in the 1st half, but Chip Kelly didn’t give up on him. McCoy got going in the 2nd quarter and finished with 7 carries for 32 yards. He ran with more confidence and finally had some room to work with. He also caught 4 passes.

The Eagles threw the ball a lot in the 1st half. I think this was by design. Build a lead, get the defense running all over and try to tire them out a bit.

I fully expect the Eagles to run a good amount in the 2nd half. They may continue to throw on the opening possession, but after that I think we’ll see a lot of running, with both McCoy and Sproles.

The Eagles defense is having a solid day.

The STs scored another TD. Those guys are playing lights out.

Good 1st half overall, but still lots of sloppy play. The Eagles got to play with a lead for a very short period last week. An early turnover in the 2nd half completely changed that game. If the Eagles can move the ball and possibly score, they’ll get a chance to show what they can do with a lead.

_


STL at PHI – 1st Half

Posted: October 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 389 Comments »

Gameday is upon us. We know the inactive list and there is a bit of news. Rookie WR Josh Huff will play in his first NFL game. So the answer to the timeless question of what does it take to get Jeff Maehl off the field is…another WR from Oregon. (cue rimshot)

We knew Mychal Kendricks wasn’t going to play this week. Keep your fingers crossed for next week.

Inactives:

QB Matt Barkley
WR Jeff Maehl
OL Dennis Kelly
OL Jason Kelce
DE Taylor Hart
ILB Mychal Kendricks
DB Jaylen Watkins

* * * * *

Let’s hope Lane Johnson is ready to go. We know he’s healthy and rested. We just don’t want him too rusty. His return can be a big boost to the run game.

_


Unwritten

Posted: October 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 24 Comments »

Let’s talk about a team. Got off to a 3-1 start. Beat a pair of AFC teams. Beat an NFC East rival in a close game. The early loss was on the road against an NFC West team. Had to deal with some OL injuries.

So who is this?

The 2014 Eagles. And the 2012 Eagles.

You remember how things went in 2012. The 3-1 start turned into a 3-3 record with close, painful losses to Pittsburgh and Detroit. Then came the bye week. Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo and named Todd Bowles the defensive coordinator. Reid hoped Bowles experience would pay off in some close games. Instead, the Eagles fell apart. They went 1-9 the rest of the way and turned a promising season into an utter disaster.

Oddly, the Eagles have 2 more games this year and then the bye week. It is kind of eerie how 2014 mirrors 2012.

There are some huge differences, of course. Reid was at the end of his tenure and while the players still loved him they had started to tune him out. Chip Kelly is just in Year 2 and everyone is paying attention to everything he says. Reid’s coaching staff had serious issues. Kelly’s staff so far has been nothing but harmonious.

While I don’t know how the 2014 season will turn out, I feel pretty safe in saying the team won’t go 4-12. I am interested to see how this Eagles team responds to last week. That was a highly frustrating loss. The worst thing the Eagles can do is press. I hope they come out and try to run the ball. I do not want the first play to be a deep ball to a WR. I know the offense will be jonesing to score, but the focus should be on moving the ball. Move the chains and the points will follow.

I wrote about the run game and how that might get going this week for PE.com. I will be a happy camper if the first play of the game is a 5-yard run. The Eagles need to get LeSean McCoy going and to build some confidence for the O-line.

Sunday isn’t going to be a defining game for the Eagles any more than last Sunday was. But it is important for the team to play well and get back to winning. The Rams are a talented, but somewhat dysfunctional team. The Eagles are at home. This is the kind of game you need to win.

* * * * *

ILB Jake Knott was released the other day. He got an injury settlement so obviously he got hurt at practice. Man, 2014 is just not his year.

The Eagles have an opening on the practice squad.

* * * * *

Could the Eagles have any interest in Thompkins?

He started for the Pats in 2013, but fell out of favor this year. The Pats have made some odd decisions in the past couple of years so you can’t just say “he didn’t work out for them so no thanks”.

I think a WR-needy team like the Jets or Jags could claim him off waivers. If no team ahead of the Eagles does claim him, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles claim him. Thompkins has some size at 6-1, 195. He is a good, but not great athlete.

Thompkins is eligible for the practice squad, but it seems like some team is going to put him on their roster. The biggest hindrance to the Eagles having interest in him might be Thompkins lack of Special Teams ability. Chip Kelly likes his backup players to be good STers. That is one of the reasons that Jeff Maehl has a job. In order to cut Maehl and grab Thompkins, you’d have to be comfortable that Thompkins could be an effective role player. There is no question that Thompkins is more talented, but the guys at the bottom of the roster need more than talent.

In the end, this is likely much ado about nothing. Some other team will claim Thompkins and we’ll be on the lookout for the next player to replace Maehl.

_