Eagles TE Zach Ertz did his homework and was told that retired offensive line coach Hudson Houck still trained players. So he called Houck, who mentored Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews at Southern Cal and coached the great Cowboys lines of the 1990s, out of the blue. Soon after, they spent two weeks together in San Diego working on blocking.
Ertz' time with Houck was just one part of his offseason plan. He spent a month focusing on strength training, another on circuit training and additional time on mixed martial arts training. He also sought out former tight end great Tony Gonzalez, who instructed Ertz on the importance of preparation and tenacity.
The 24-year-old Ertz's goals are high. He said he wants to be mentioned someday alongside Gonzalez and others in the NFL pantheon of tight ends. But he knows he can't get there if he's playing only 50 percent of offensive snaps, as he did last season.
There's ample reason, though, to believe that Ertz will finally become a focal point of Chip Kelly's offense. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes against the Redskins in the penultimate game of last season. And when asked to explain last month how he'll compensate for the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kelly prominently mentioned Ertz.
"I think he's still growing, and I think Zach will be the first one to tell you that," Kelly said at the NFL meeting. "I think he's working extremely hard in the offseason at continuing to get better."
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. If Chip Kelly moves Jordan Matthews outside, then Ertz is a candidate to fill Matthews role in the slot, assuming Kelly is willing to play more two-TE sets to get Ertz on the field. Ertz is currently going in the 8th round of early PPR drafts.
"I think you would think that I might get a whole lot more outside reps now just because Maclin is gone, but I already had talked to coaches, and they were already going to implement me more on the outside as opposed to just the inside regardless," Matthews said. "I don't think that's a crazy, huge deal."
HC Chip Kelly said last week that he can envision Matthews playing "a lot of different spots." Kelly kept Matthews in the slot because they wanted him to learn only one position as a rookie. Now that Matthews is more comfortable entering his second season, that role can expand.
If Matthews moves outside, he'll surely see his snaps played increase from his rookie season (65%) and he should be able to improve on his #25 finish in PPR formats. The team signed Miles Austin, who played mostly in the slot while with the Cowboys. Josh Huff and Zach Ertz could also see snaps in the slot.
Rapoport reported that the deal was worth $11 million per season. Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. However, he did most of his damage in the first eight games (46-801-8, #2 WR) and faded from Week 10 on (40-528-2, #23 WR). His targets dropped from 10.5 per game in the first half of the season to just 7.5 T/G down the stretch, but this decrease basically coincided with Mark Sanchez taking over for Nick Foles at quarterback. Now he’ll have Alex Smith as his quarterback and should see plenty targets alongside up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. HC Andy Reid is very familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this appears to be a system downgrade. Maclin averaged 4.6 catches for 61 yards and 0.50 TD (solid WR2-type numbers) from 2010-2012, while playing for Reid.
Update: This deal has been finalized.
The Eagles can also pick up a conditional pick in 2016 based on how many snaps Bradford takes. If Bradford plays less than 50 percent the Eagles will get a 4th-round pick, if he does not play at all it becomes a 3rd-rounder. If Bradford plays more than 50 percent of snaps the Eagles will not receive any additional compensation.
Change is afoot. Foles’ second season as the starter in Philadelphia didn’t go as well as his first. After a ridiculous 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013, Foles tossed 13 touchdowns against 10 picks last year. It wasn’t all his fault, however, as he was playing behind a patchwork offensive line and didn’t have as much time to throw. In the seven games that he finished in 2014, he averaged 16.9 fantasy points, which is about what Philip Rivers scored as the #12 QB on the season. Foles ultimately broke his collarbone in Week 9 and missed the final eight games of the season. He'll be penciled in as the starter in St. Louis, but this is a scheme/system downgrade, and the Rams' receiving corps is currently lacking established talent. As for Bradford, he'll get a fresh start in a friendly offense, though the Eagles just lost Jeremy Maclin. It's a familiar situation for Bradford, who has never had the benefit of a strong supporting cast. Both quarterbacks will be QB2 types heading into the summer.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Chiefs are expected to release Bowe on Wednesday, according to a source. Bowe became expendable when the team locked into an agreement with Jeremy Maclin on Sunday.
Bowe's production has been on the decline since 2011, though the last two years (with QB Alex Smith) have been particularly ugly.
The wild ride of subtraction and addition will apparently continue with the Philadelphia Eagles because receiver Jeremy Maclin plans to reunite with former coach Andy Reid on the Kansas City Chiefs once free agency officially begins on Tuesday, according to league sources.
The Chiefs will need to clear salary-cap space to sign Maclin, whose new contract would project in the range of what Randall Cobb received to stay with the Green Bay Packers at $10 million per year. It's possible Maclin could slightly exceed Cobb's salary when negotiations are finished. Unlike Cobb, who chose to remain with his team, the Green Bay Packers, Maclin is prepared to depart Philadelphia, coming off his best season, in which he had 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin played on a one-year, $5.25 million contract in 2014 after missing 2013 with an ACL injury.
Update: The deal is reportedly worth around $11 million per season.
Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. However, he did most of his damage in the first eight games (46-801-8, #2 WR) and faded from Week 10 on (40-528-2, #23 WR). His targets dropped from 10.5 per game in the first half of the season to just 7.5 T/G down the stretch, but this decrease basically coincided with Mark Sanchez taking over for Nick Foles at quarterback. If the report turns out to be true, he'll have Alex Smith as his quarterback and could hog targets alongside up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. Reid is familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this appears to be a system downgrade.
Eagles beat writer Jeff McLane on the team's negotiations with free agent WR Jeremy Maclin:
Maclin should be the No. 1 priority for the Eagles before free agency starts on March 10. They lose him and they’re really going to have to pay if they want to sign a free agent of comparable skill -- if there is one remaining. It shouldn’t come to that. Maclin wants to stay, the Eagles want him, and last I heard they weren’t significantly far apart. He should end up with a contract somewhere in the $9.5-$10 million a year range with most of around $20 million guaranteed in the first two years. If a deal can’t be struck by Monday afternoon, the Eagles will have to decide whether or not to use the franchise tag ($12.8 million). It’s unlikely the Eagles will want to pay Maclin that much over one season.
Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. However, he did most of his damage in the first eight games (46-801-8, #2 WR) and faded from Week 10 on (40-528-2, #23 WR). His targets dropped from 10.5 per game in the first half of the season to just 7.5 T/G down the stretch. If Maclin re-signs with the Eagles, fantasy owners should keep his late-season swoon in mind.
Speaking Monday morning on 94WIP, head coach Chip Kelly stood behind quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has yet to lead his team to a victory this month.
"Mark's our quarterback," Kelly said.
Since taking over for an injured Nick Foles, Sanchez has been average at best, throwing for 2,126 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games. What has killed both the team and Sanchez has been the turnovers. With 10 interceptions and three fumbles, Sanchez has turned the ball over 13 times this season.
His inability to take care of the ball was the final nail in the Eagles' coffin this weekend. The Eagles were driving for a game-winning field goal, and had the ball in Washington Redskins' territory. With pressure in his face, Sanchez tried to get the ball to receiver Jeremy Maclin, but the ball was low and behind the receiver. Outside of that, Sanchez did produce some nice fantasy numbers and was at least back on track in that department after three down weeks.
From a fantasy angle, Mark Sanchez was cruising a long putting up serviceable fantasy points - until the last two weeks. The matchups get easier as the Birds take on the Redskins and Giant to close the season, but if you've survived with Sanchez to this point it will be tough to trust him in Week 16. While he was half a yard away from a long Jeremy Maclin TD pass to his credit, his two biggest pass plays were shorter throws that Maclin and Josh Huff turned into big gains or his final numbers may have resembled his passing numbers against Seattle. It's possible the team turns back to Foles if they make the playoffs, but at this point it doesn't look like Foles will get a chance to shake the rust in the regular season.
"I guess we'll see," Maclin said. "I saw him follow Dez [Bryant] a little bit. For the most part, we kind of stay on one side as receivers, and he's on my side."
Maclin complimented the Seahawks' secondary, but he has always contended that he's confident he can get open in man-to-man coverage. That does not change this week.
"I like my chances against anybody," Maclin said.
Sherman is one of the league's top cornerbacks, so this is a matchup that Maclin owners should be aware of heading into Week 14. Given his play, he's still startable, but owners would be wise to lower their expectations given the matchup.
Sanchez played well and certainly offered hope that the Eagles will be fine without Foles. Sanchez connected with Jeremy Maclin on a deep ball on his very first play of the game. Sanchez also threw a pair of red zone touchdown passes. If a quarterback can deliver big plays and red zone touchdowns, you feel good about your chances to win games.
Sanchez made good decisions in the game. His throws were accurate. I thought he put great touch on several key passes. Sanchez hit Jordan Matthews on a fade for a short touchdown. That was an exceptionally good throw. The ball needed some air on it so Matthews could run under it, but the pass couldn't be too soft or the defender could get to it. Sanchez put the ball right where it needed to be and it had great touch. Matthews made the grab and got both feet down. The other red zone score was a pass to Maclin on the right side. Maclin was well-covered, but the defender had his back to the ball. Sanchez threw the ball low and Maclin went down to make the grab.
Both plays were impressive because it is hard to score in the red zone. You love having open receivers, but often the quarterback has to "throw his receiver open." Sanchez did just that on both plays. He put the ball in a spot where only his guy could get it. Also, Sanchez threw the passes so that they were catchable. There were times in the past when Mike Vick would put too much heat on his red zone throws and receivers couldn't handle them. Sanchez made good reads, quick decisions and the right kind of throws. That's what you want in the red zone.
We have Sanchez ranked #16 in our rest-of-season rankings. He's an attractive add mainly due to Chip Kelly's offense. He looked capable at times while with the Jets, but never had a good selection of weapons around him. He'll have plenty of talented receivers to throw to in Philly. His schedule down the stretch only has one scary matchup -- Week 14 vs. Seattle.
Monday, October 27, 2014, 8:36am
Cornerback Patrick Peterson was diagnosed with a concussion in the second quarter and missed the rest of the contest. Peterson was hurt when teammate Deone Bucannon hit Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and drove him into Peterson with enough force that both Maclin and Peterson had to go to the locker room for evaluation.
Maclin would return, but Peterson wouldn’t and will now have to gain clearance by going through the concussion protocol. It’s too early to know whether he has a chance to do so in time to play against the Cowboys next week, although Peterson tweeted that he’s OK, in a game that will likely leave us with a frontrunner for home field advantage in the playoffs.
Friday, October 3, 2014, 6:19pm
Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 5. Maclin is good to go for a good matchup with the Rams.
Thursday, October 2, 2014, 6:31pm
Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) took full practice reps again Thursday. Maclin’s hamstring doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 6:31pm
Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) practiced fully Wednesday. Maclin’s hamstring doesn’t seem to be a problem.
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