Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 12:28pm
Through two games, the Eagles are ranked No. 1 in the league in both points (64) and yards (878). That is impressive, especially considering that not everything on the offense is clicking just yet.
QB Nick Foles hasn’t been quite himself through two games. (Or, at least, the 2013 version of himself.) The choppiness that we saw during the preseason has carried over. Like last week against the Jaguars, a bulk of the misfires came in the first half. His third down pass intended for Jeremy Maclin near the goal line on the opening possession was off the mark, as were a pair of swing passes and a longer toss to Maclin in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter. He ended the half 13-of-21 for 187 yards with an interception.
"I missed some throws. I missed some throws that could have really helped us out and if I hit those throws, it will shorten the chains," said Foles. "I need to be a little more accurate, give my guys the opportunity to catch the ball and run with it."
His receivers weren't helping. There were six drops, including one by Riley Cooper on a perfectly-placed ball by Foles in the left corner of the end zone in the first quarter. Cooper had one catch for eight yards. He has five catches for 37 yards on 11 targets through two games. Rookie Jordan Matthews had a couple drops. And on the interception, Maclin could have arguably made a better effort fighting for a ball that Greg Toler came away with.
Foles missed Ertz on a throw in the red zone that was behind him and also never saw a wide open Cooper streaking across the field on a key third down play, both in the second half as the Eagles were trying to come back. The Eagles play calling in the red zone was rather odd as Chip Kelly opted for plays many would define as "cute." Foles could be a little on edge behind an offensive line that's banged up right now. The good news is RBs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles have been helping pad his fantasy stats. The team has another favorable matchup on Sunday against Washington.
Colts beat writer Mike Wells: Tight ends with speed, like Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham, give the Colts problems because they don’t have linebackers capable of lining up out wide to defend them. D’Qwell Jackson doesn’t have the speed to keep up with fast tight ends and fellow middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman is dealing with a hamstring issue. If Nick Foles is smart, he'll take a page out of Peyton Manning's book from last week and find a favorable matchup and keep going to that player.
Like most of us, he saw a quarterback on Sunday that didn’t seem to be processing information quickly and who was holding onto the ball too long.
But Jaws believes there was more to the story; that part of the problem was that Jacksonville had a bead on what the Eagles were doing on offense.
“I felt that one of the great traits last year of Chip Kelly was getting Number One open. In other words, when you call a play, you design to get the ball to Zach Ertz and he pops open. If you’re designing a play to get the ball to Jeremy Maclin, he pops open. And he was really, really good at that," Jaworski said during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic. "I thought for the most part [on Sunday], especially in the first half, Jacksonville kind of knew what they were doing. They were taking away where Nick wanted to go with the football. And he wasn’t getting the ball out of his hand quick enough when Number One wasn’t open. That was the big difference in Week 1 to me.”
Foles had a rough first half, but bounced back in the second, completing 15 of 21 passes for 183 yards and two TDs in the comeback victory.
Why? The presence of Darren Sproles.
"I think with Sproles here it might change a little bit," McCoy said. "Now, I’m sure that if the game gets tight and you need to ride me, yeah I’m the guy for it, but I think with just a mix up with Sproles doing different things, sometimes a 5-yard carry can be the same as 5-yard route with Sproles. And I’m learning that it doesn’t take a lot of reps or a lot of lot of touches to get or be more productive or get what you want done, and you can do it with less."
Sproles was acquired in a trade with New Orleans this offseason. His role in the offense has been kept under wraps, but the Eagles have shown glimpses. Sproles has been deadly on the wheel route in Training Camp and nearly scored a touchdown on it in the preseason versus the Steelers except quarterback Nick Foles' pass was just out of Sproles' reach.
We currently have McCoy projected for 306 carries and 43 catches, which represents about a 5% drop from his 366 touches in 2013. It's going to be interesting to see how Chip Kelly uses Sproles, who has intriguing flex appeal in PPR formats.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 9:45pm
Darren Sproles could not contain his smile. He did not want to reveal what Eagles coach Chip Kelly has planned for him in the offense this season. He would only admit that his preseason totals of nine carries and three catches were not even a glimpse of what's to come when the Eagles open the season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We haven't shown anything yet," Sproles said.
Teammates volunteer praise for Sproles. The 31-year-old veteran is a diligent worker who fits in the Eagles' locker room culture. But when asked how Sproles would be used, those teammates became similarly mum.
"Y'all just need to wait and see," quarterback Nick Foles said.
Sproles would only say that Eagles fans would like what's to come. The story went on to say the Eagles are committed to using him in the running game, which Sproles has said is one different way he expects to be used. The LeSean McCoy-Sproles package is also going to be a wrinkle. The Eagles want to create mismatches for Sproles with linebackers, so where they align him and move him before the snap will be involve the intricacies that the team has kept veiled so far.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 3:37pm
Even without Lane Johnson for the first four games, the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line still has plenty of firepower. Johnson will miss the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
But with Allen Barbre likely filling in alongside Evan Mathis, Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce, the Eagles' offensive line should be quite strong.
“I feel really good about the progress we've made and how we've played as a unit and how we will play as a unit,” Mathis, an All-Pro left guard, told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I see everything being better. It's not brand new to us anymore. We have experience doing it. If there's anything any of us had flaws at, we've worked really hard at correcting those, as well as improving on every other aspect of the game.”
Running back LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing last season with 1,607 yards. Quarterback Nick Foles threw 27 touchdowns, two interceptions and compiled a passer rating of 119.2. The line was a big part of that and has turned into a strength of the team, especially in Chip Kelly's offense that runs a lot of plays. McCoy is a top back this year and Foles is expected to have another great season, although a 27-2 ratio probably shouldn't be expected.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:01pm
A tight end has to have a total skill set in this offense. And the Eagles have three of them and the coaching has taken the best of what each player does to create a promising symmetry that is as central to the scheme as any personnel grouping.
Brent Celek is the veteran force, the ultra-tough guy who someday will go down as one of the best in franchise history. He's worked so hard over the years to make himself a strong blocker to help in the running game and in pass protection, and at the same time continues to find cracks and crevices in defensive coverage to make himself a reliable target for quarterback Nick Foles.
Of the three, Celek is the most "traditional" tight end for a position that has morphed over the years. Today's tight end is more defined as a receiver proportioned to tower over defensive backs and to run past linebackers. Celek is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds and he is still capable of big gains, but in his eighth season Celek is properly called a "move-the-chains pass catcher."
The Birds also have Zach Ertz and James Casey. Casey was mostly invisible last season and will still be behind Celek and Ertz this year. While Ertz is getting most of the attention in terms of fantasy value, Celek can't be forgotten and it's very possible he continues to be a factor in the offense. This could limit Ertz's potential again this year. But Ertz has six catches for 86 yards so far in preseason games and still looks poised to have a big year. Of the two, Ertz is the guy to target, at least leading into the season
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 11:19am
Foles, coming off his two-interception preseason debut last Friday against the Bears, bounced back from his spotty performance and returned to Folesian form Friday night in New England.
“Yeah, I thought he bounced back,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “Unfortunately the first play of the game, we fumbled and couldn’t get them (the Pats' offense) off the field, so it took a while to get back into rhythm. I thought when he got back out there, I was pleased with how he performed and how he moved those guys down the field a little bit.”
Despite having his two top receivers sidelined, Foles completed 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and tossed a touchdown in his four total series (see 10 observations). He compiled a passer rating of 133.8.
Foles looked great all week in team drills against New England and in limited time thanks to turnovers, turned in another good performance. We've seen him bounce back before, like last year in a brutal game against the Cowboys, he was fantastic the rest of the season. He continues to be a middle round target for those who wait at QB.
Foles had his best showing of training camp against the Patriots' first-team defense on Tuesday, tossing three touchdowns and not throwing a single interception. The lights-out showing in practice came five days after he threw two interceptions in nine passes against the Chicago Bears.
"I moved on from the (Chicago) game," Foles said after practice. "I had to."
Foles had a number of impressive throws against the Patriots, with the highlight of the day being a 40-plus yard touchdown pass to receiver Jeremy Maclin over cornerback Darrelle Revis. Foles first pump-faked to his left, before coming back and hitting Maclin in stride in the corner of the end zone. It's a good sign he bounced back from the team's first preseason game where he threw two interceptions after having just two all of last season.
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 11:34am
Wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah went from a dazzling combination of size and speed to Training Camp afterthought to unemployed, all in his first stint with the Eagles last summer. Re-signed in the offseason, Momah has looked to be a completely different player this summer than the raw, and sometimes rusty, receiver he was last year.
As a result, the 6-foot-7 receiver got the nod to start with Riley Cooper and Jeff Maehl sidelined Friday night. And, of course, Momah would have his number called on the very first play from scrimmage, hauling in a 12-yard pass from Nick Foles.
“It was awesome,” Momah said. “It was a good experience. Obviously a lot to learn from. I didn’t want to go in with any nerves or make any mistakes and I think I did decent for the first game. But it was exciting. Keep fighting, keep getting better and try to make this team this year.”
Momah caught two passes for 15 yards on the night, but the difference between the two years was apparent. What exactly, though, are the differences between 2013 Momah and the current version who was trusted with a starting gig?
Momah is much more confident this year but is still a work in progress. He's got great size but likely won't be a fantasy option again this season. But the Birds continue to work with him and see potential.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill started a make-or-break third season in perfect fashion.
Granted, it was only one 10-snap preseason-opening cameo against a retooled Atlanta Falcons defense Friday night. But the quarterback, who was pummeled for a league-high 58 sacks last season, looked comfortable and in sharp command of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s up-tempo offense.
Tannehill looked good in his new offense led by Lazor, who came over from Philly where he helped Nick Foles to an impressive year. He's a low-end QB2 ranked 20th on our list but could have some use in certain matchups. According to ADPs he's not getting drafted in a lot of 10-team leagues.
On Friday night, in the team's preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, it took him just four.
Foles was picked off in the Eagles' first series of the preseason, his first of two interceptions on the night in what was not an impressive opening performance from the starter.
Foles isn't going to have another year where he throws just two interceptions, but in his defense it was a pretty sloppy game with a lot of penalty flags. Foles should still be able to put up numbers in this offense but it will certainly be interesting to see if he bounces back a little next week.
Friday, August 8, 2014, 11:43am
And when he came back to the NovaCare Complex this spring and took third-team reps behind Foles and Mark Sanchez, Barkley wasn’t willing to admit that he wasn’t in the picture to be Foles’ backup.
About two weeks into training camp, Barkley is seemingly echoing an alternate sentiment. He’s still confident, he’s still diligent, still steadfast in his belief that he can be a franchise quarterback in the league if given the opportunity.
It’s just probably not going to be here in Philly.
Barkley was thrown to the wolves a couple of times last season and it wasn't always pretty. He never really had a chance to prepare a week for a game because Michael Vick or Nick Foles would always be ready the following week. This summer, Barkley is likely auditioning for a chance to play somewhere else.
"This year, I really want to not take as many sacks, get rid of the ball faster, dump it down to the back earlier," Foles said Monday. "That's something I'll continue to work on the next few weeks."
Friday, August 1, 2014, 4:08pm
Eagles QB Nick Foles has attempted more back shoulder throws in practice this week than he did all of last season, even with lengthy wideout Riley Cooper out with a foot injury. HC Chip Kelly likes to talk about “tools in the toolbox,” and the Eagles have the personnel this year -- Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews -- to make the back shoulder throw more prominent in their offense.
They’ve become trendy tosses for quarterbacks in a league where wideouts now resemble outside linebackers, and they’re effective because receivers don’t have to create separation with speed to make the play.
All it takes is the proper adjustment to an intentionally underthrown pass.
“It's part of the game,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “I think they can be very effective if they're thrown with the right timing and at the right spot. So it's just one of the things guys work on. We try to take advantage of every opportunity to get the ball down the field, and that is just another way to do it.”
- Page 1