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.
Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia on the state of the team's tight end corps:
Brent Celek played 69 percent of the snaps last year and finished with 32 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown. Celek was very good as a run blocker, and it's no secret that Chip Kelly thinks the world of him.
Zach Ertz is one of the best receiving options on the team, having finished with 58 grabs for 702 yards. The feeling here is that he was underutilized (50 percent of the snaps) in 2014.
Celek is 30 years old and certainly does not provide the same threat as a receiver that he once did. But it's impossible to overstate how much Kelly loves him. This is still a run-based offense, and Celek is the best blocking tight end on the roster. He carries a $5 million cap hit, which doesn't seem unreasonable. In other words, I don't think he's going anywhere.
Many (including yours truly) thought Ertz would take a bigger chunk out of Celek's snaps last year. Ertz will have to continue to improve his run blocking to earn Kelly's trust. But his role should continue to expand in his third season.
Ertz's run blocking improved dramatically this year, per the grading of the analytics sites. Still, Kapadia's comments about Kelly's affection for Celek do not indicate that the team is ready to give Ertz significantly more playing time. Ertz finished as the #13 TE in standard formats even though he played just 50 percent of his team's snaps.
Musgrave was previously the offensive coordinator for Carolina (20th in yards; 21st in points), Jacksonville (12th and 21st in yards; 25th and 29th in points) and Minnesota (18th, 20th and 13th in yards; 19th, 14th and 14th in points) prior to serving as the QB coach for Chip Kelly and the Eagles. His offenses tend to perform better in the running game, but that probably has more to do with the personnel (Fred Taylor, Adrian Peterson) that he was working with. We see this as a decent hire for Derek Carr and Latavius Murray.
Especially catching the football. He worked hard in that department, getting maximum use out of the Jugs machine, but now it’s a mental game.
“I feel like I have a different set of hands,’’ Williams said of his 18 receptions, good for 130 yards after not catching a pass his senior year at Boston College. “I feel like I have a better grasp on how the catching mechanism is supposed to work.’’
Now comes Step 2.
“It’s not really anything physical, it’s mental,’’ Williams said. “You come into the league and it’s like, ‘I was catching passes from college quarterbacks, but now this is Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, who is throwing balls to Odell Beckham who has something crazy going on with his hands. He can catch them with one hand and I couldn’t even begin to think of how to accomplish that. It’s definitely a mental game, just having confidence that you are capable of it. Once you have that then you can really start working on actually catching the ball.’’
The story added that Williams is an intelligent player and is going to pick the brains of veteran running backs like Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy this offseason, along with his continuing dialogue with Giants’ veteran back Rashad Jennings. Any improvement in the pass-catching game could give Williams the edge to a more significant role next year. Jennings is approaching old age in terms of RBs (will be 30 in March) and was banged up in 2014.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 12:47pm
Traded to the Eagles last offseason by the New Orleans Saints, Darren Sproles was supposed to create a dynamic backfield with Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy. Together, the two were supposed to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
A vision that never came to fruition.
"I feel we could have done more," Sproles said of playing with McCoy, "but I don't know."
"Have us on the field the same time more," Sproles said of what he would like to see next season. "Have me do more routes out of the backfield."
Sproles was on the field for 344 total snaps in his first season with the Eagles. Of those 344 snaps, Sproles shared a backfield with McCoy only 38 times. The two were successful during their limited time together, as the offense averaged 6.5 yards per play this season with both McCoy and Sproles on the field, the story said. Sproles had double-digit touches the team's first two games but then the touches got less and less as the weeks went on. He did miss a game because of a knee injury. Sproles didn't catch a ball in three games this year and in two of those he wasn't even targeted.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 11:00am
Eagles coach Chip Kelly stiff-armed a question about how important it is to identify a franchise quarterback Monday, but Kelly spoke encouragingly of Nick Foles, saying Foles just needs to continue his improvement trajectory in the offseason.
Though Kelly talked again of thoroughly reviewing the quarterback position, Foles would seem to be the most likely 2015 starter.
Kelly said Foles "just needs to continue to work. One thing I do not fault Nick (on) is (his) work ethic. He's been outstanding in that. I watched how he attacked his rehabilitation ... what he did every day. He's been outstanding from that standpoint. I think he's continuing to grow as a quarterback. I think that's part of the maturation process in this league ... you kind of almost need to do something, make that mistake and then learn from that mistake. That's the one thing I admire about Nick is, he processes things well, if he does make a mistake, rarely does he make the same mistake twice.
"I think he just needs to continue on the trajectory he's headed on right now."
Realistically, Foles seems like he'll be the starter for the Eagles in 2015. Philly local media often points out that Foles doesn't always appear to be Kelly's guy, so these were pretty encouraging words from Kelly about Foles. Foles was never afraid to throw the deep ball, something Mark Sanchez didn't always have success with, and that seemed to limit the Eagles offense over the last few weeks. Foles is a nice fantasy option to wait on at QB, especially if his target area is the seventh or eighth round again in 2015 drafts.
McCoy initially feared it was something serious, based on the way he went down. Other players knelt around him, hoping it wasn't. McCoy eventually arose and limped off the field on his own power. He wanted to go back into the game, but the clock was winding down by that point.
The Eagles' Pro Bowl running back avoided a scare. The question now is whether that was his final carry with the team.
That question might seem absurd considering that McCoy, 26, rushed for 99 yards on Sunday to finish with 1,319 yards this season. It was the second-highest rushing total of his career, with both seasons coming under Chip Kelly. He was named to his third Pro Bowl in six seasons last week.
But McCoy is due to be paid $9.75 million with a salary-cap number of $11.95 million in 2015. That's a hefty price for a running back, and McCoy admitted that his future goes through his mind sometimes - especially after the Eagles jettisoned DeSean Jackson last offseason.
McCoy said he wants to stay and seems open to restructuring his contract after a down year. HC Chip Kelly came out Sunday and said he wants Shady back in the fold for 2015, so a departure seems unlikely at this point.
The writing has been on the wall for a long time, and now it's reality: the Jets have fired Rex Ryan. Second-year general manager John Idzik was also let go.
The pair was informed of their fate early Monday morning, the team announced.
The popular head coach brought the Jets out of relative obscurity in the world's biggest market back in 2009. He led New York to the AFC title game twice in his first two seasons and even scored a book deal and contract extension. But he never reached the playoffs again.
The defensive-minded coach's time was marred by inconsistent quarterback play, a knock on his resume that he was never able to overcome despite going through several different coordinators. The team drafted two quarterbacks in the first or second round -- Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith -- neither of whom could buoy an offense strong enough to complement Ryan's dominant defenses. Ryan leaves the Jets with a 46-50 record.
Jets owner Woody Johnson issued a statement following the news.
"Both Rex and John made significant contributions to the team, and they have my appreciation and gratitude for their efforts and commitment. Over the years, Rex brought the Jets a bold confidence and a couple of great post-season runs, which all of us will remember. I am beginning our search for new football leadership, effective immediately, with guidance and support from respected football experts, including Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf, two Super Bowl winners with decades of valuable experience."
As NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted on Sunday, Johnson is searching for a candidate with more of a personnel background. As Rapoport also noted, Ryan will search for another head coaching opportunity. Potential openings in Chicago, Oakland and Atlanta would certainly be appealing. If not, Ryan will go into television -- he retained a media agent in the event that he would move in front of the camera.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
"When you know your team is going a different direction and the thought is that it's going to be better for the football team, it's easy to buy into that but as the season unfolds there's tough times in there," Witten said. "You don't have as many opportunities. You take on a different role. You embrace that and buy into that. You still play a critical role in doing things, setting the edge in the run game, and being a complete tight end but at different times, it is hard."
In the last two weeks Witten has been a focal point through the air. He has caught 14 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. He had a season-high 90 yards on seven catches against the Colts that included a 25-yard touchdown. On the opposite end of that, Witten has five games with two or fewer catches this season. The last time he had that many came in 2005, his third year in the league. His 14-catch run in the last two games is his best two-game total since Week 12-13 in 2012 when he caught 15 passes for 182 yards against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
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.
Saturday, December 20, 2014, 3:09pm
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
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