Iggles Blitz

Another Good Sign

Posted: October 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

There are plenty of positives from the Giants game. The offense scored TDs in the Red Zone. The defense came up with a critical takeaway and played great RZ defense. Eli Manning got sacked four times. The Eagles got help from Special Teams.

I also thought the coaches had their best game of the year.

The offensive coaches had a short week, but came up with some nice play-calls. The plays weren’t just well-designed, they were called at the right times. A good gameplan is as much about timing as it is about X’s and O’s.

The Eagles did a great job last year of building gameplans and calling plays. It is fair to question how much the team has missed Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, but I think injuries and new faces have also played a big part in the slow start. The Giants game was very encouraging from a coaching perspective.

It wasn’t just the offensive staff.

Schwartz decided that OBJ wasn’t going to beat the Eagles. He dared Eli to make plays by forcing the ball to other receivers. That plan didn’t work great. The Eagles coverage was better than in other games. Also, the D-line got a lot of pressure. They played really well and made a difference.

The Eagles aren’t piling up sacks, but they are affecting the QB.

Now the coaches have a full week to get ready for the Panthers. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles attack on offense and defense.

Carolina is 15th in pass defense and run defense. There isn’t a glaring weakness or a great strength.

Schwartz will need a really good gameplan for how to deal with Cam Newton. In four games, Carson Wentz has thrown 158 passes. In five games, Newton has thrown 170 passes. Newton has run the ball 45 times, the same number as Jay Ajayi. Newton is the key to that offense in a way that most QBs just aren’t.

The Eagles are going to be in for quite a challenge, having to deal with Newton the passer and the runner. His QB rating is 93.2. This isn’t a runner who can throw the occasional deep ball. Newton can do it all and do it all at a high level.

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Doug Pederson was asked about the DT situation on Wednesday. He was coy about the status of Haloti Ngata for this week. Pederson said the Eagles have a plan. He, Schwartz and Chris Wilson had talked and made sure they had some options for Sunday.

I assume that means Ngata will either be ready to go or the team will promote Bruce Hector if needed.

I guess it is possible the Eagles could see about trading Chance Warmack for Aaron Donald, but I just don’t know if the Rams would do that. Can’t hurt to ask, I guess.

Maybe the Eagles have some surprising move at DT. Could Josh Sweat play some snaps on the inside? He played multiple snaps there in the 4th quarter of the win over the Giants. Sweat hasn’t proven to be an explosive edge rusher at the NFL level, but he is talented and physical.

Wow. That’s impressive.

Sweat has a ton of potential. I hope he’s able to show that when he gets the chance this season.

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Minor Moves

Posted: October 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles have yet to make a big move, but they made several small ones on Tuesday.

Who needs Patrick Peterson when you can have Dexter McDougle, right?

McDougle played for the Eagles in 2017. He can play outside or in the slot, making him valuable to a banged up secondary. The Eagles will be missing Sidney Jones for at least a week or two, possibly more. While he’s out, tough decisions have to be made.

Avonte Maddox is needed at FS to replace Rodney McLeod. He is also needed in the slot to replace Sidney Jones. Maddox is a good young player, but he can’t be in two spots at once so the Eagles have a decision to make.

They can play Maddox at FS in the base and then move him down to the slot in 3 and 4-receiver sets. Rasul Douglas could then slide into the FS spot in those looks.

The Eagles could put Douglas at LCB and move Jalen Mills to the slot, leaving Maddox to play only FS.

McDougle now gives the coaches another option. He could play in the slot, leaving Maddox to play FS and Douglas to be the top backup CB. McDougle was with the Lions this summer, but hasn’t played this year. He is at his best in the slot and does have experience in this scheme.

Could he really come in and play a key role this quickly? DB is one of the few spots where that would be possible, but it wouldn’t seem likely. I doubt we’ll hear much from the coaches on this. They don’t want to give the Panthers extra info. We’ll have to wait and see on Sunday.

If Corey Graham is able to play, that will certainly help. He can help in the slot and at FS. You need options when it comes to coming up with a coverage gameplan these days.

I put a lot of value in having Maddox at FS, but it will be interesting to see what exactly the coaches do.

*****

What’s going on at DT?

Cutting Vaeao really surprised me. He just had a sack in the last game. Obviously he’s banged up and the Eagles felt cutting him was the best option for now.

That leaves them with Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata and Treyvon Hester as the only DTs on the roster. The Eagles have played games with only three active DTs before so this isn’t unheard of. The Eagles also use Michael Bennett and Brandon Graham on the inside in some passing sets so that eats up a certain amount of DT snaps.

Ngata missed the last two games. He must be healthy or the Eagles would be adding another DT.

The Eagles can’t stick with three DTs. Bruce Hector is on the practice squad and has played in games this year. He could be brought up to the active roster.

We still don’t know when, or if, Tim Jernigan will be back. He’s eligible to return now, but clearly isn’t healthy if the Eagles aren’t activating him. The first step for him will be practicing and we’re not even there yet.

I would tell you the Eagles should go trade for a DT to add depth, but there aren’t likely to be a lot of good options. DTs aren’t easy to come by.

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As to the practice squad, Winston Craig has been part of the Eagles the past two years. He played his butt off this summer to really push for a roster spot. Craig isn’t the most talented guy, but he is a maximum-effort kind of guy. He’ll be good for practices.

I don’t know what the team likes about Bello, specifically. He’s got a good frame at 6-3, 229. He’s athletic. The Eagles have had LBs coming and going from the PS all season. I’m not sure what they are looking for. This could simply be a case of the team taking a look at different young LBs and hoping to find a player worth developing.

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Terrible, Awful Defense

Posted: October 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles defense has been awful this year. Right?

Wrong.

The Eagles are 5th in points allowed and 13th in yards allowed. The Eagles have played three teams in the Top 10 in the league in yards gained. Two of the teams are in the Top 10 in scoring.

Adam Thielen lit up the Eagles secondary. He happens to be the leading receiver in the league this season and has set an NFL record by having six consecutive 100-yard games to start the season.

I’ve written a few times already about how this is the Year of the Offense. We are seeing some amazing things done this year. We have to keep that in mind when judging the defense. I’m not excusing them for blowing the lead in the Titans game, but the defense hasn’t been nearly as bad as some would think.

The Eagles have the third best 3rd down defense in the league. They have the best Red Zone defense. What about big plays?

Sheil Kapadia had some good information on that angle.

In terms of explosive plays (runs of 10-plus yards and passes of 20-plus), the Eagles are allowing 5.5 per game. That might seem like a lot, but it’s actually the seventh fewest in the NFL. League average is 6.5 per game. And last year, the Eagles allowed 4.8 per game, fifth fewest. The lesson: Playing defense in 2018 is really hard.

Sheil’s piece has lots of good info and nuggets. He is always must-read material.

The bottom line is that the defense has been better than you think. They aren’t immune from criticism, but context and perspective tell a different story than the thoughts of angry fans after some painful losses.

The struggles of the offense have put extra pressure, and scrutiny, on the Eagles defense. If Wentz and company can get going, it will have a big impact on the whole team.

*****

Eagles coaches met with the media today. There were some good nuggets.

I know Wiz doesn’t like hearing that, but Seumalo has played better than him. This isn’t about making Wiz a goat for the offenses struggles. It was just a way to improve the OL.

It would be great for Peters to say healthy. Injuries have affected him this year. Having him bounce in and out of the lineup doesn’t help anyone.

I’m very happy with DeAndre Carter right now, but Sproles has earned the right to get another chance as the PR. It will be interesting to see if Carter is active. His primary value is on STs. Does Sproles mean Carter now becomes a spectator?

Interesting. They could use him.

Maddox made sense to me as an Eagles target before the draft. He’s their type of player. I’m glad he’s off to a good start. It will be interesting to see if he plays FS or Nickel this week. I thought he did good things at both spots last week.

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Trade Talk Update

Posted: October 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

No game action for the Eagles today due to the Thursday night win over the Giants, but that doesn’t mean Howie Roseman isn’t busy.

Howie is currently on the phone with half of the NFL, seeing who is available and at what price. He is going to focus on talent more than a specific position. The goal is to improve the Eagles, not just add a body who might help.

With that in mind, let’s talk about some names that are being mentioned as possible targets.

RB Le’Veon Bell – PIT

We’ve talked about this for a while now. The Eagles would love to add a talent like Bell, but cost is certainly an issue. It seems like he would cost at least a 2nd rounder, and that’s an issue since Bell is a free agent at the end of the year. You could let him walk in free agency and get a comp pick in 2020, but that would mean you couldn’t sign any big free agents. The Eagles like to be aggressive so dealing with a constraint like that wouldn’t be ideal.

Bell is supposedly going to report to the Steelers this week. Will his teammate welcome him back? Does the organization really want him? If the price tag lowered somehow, Howie might get real interested real fast.

RB LeSean McCoy – BUF

There are several angles to this. The first consideration is whether Shady would be worth bringing back. He turned 30 this summer and has taken quite a beating over the years. He’s got more than 2,600 touches in his NFL career. RBs tend to wear down and it does seem like that’s starting to happen. Shady averaged 4.0 yards per carry last year, a career low. This year he’s down to 3.8 ypc. Obviously circumstances play a part in that, but the eye test also says the same thing. Shady is still quick and elusive and a good player, but he’s not as consistently dynamic as he was in the past. He’s human.

McCoy would be interesting for the Eagles. He would be the most talented RB Doug Pederson has had to work with in the past three years. McCoy would add a big play element that the current group doesn’t really have. On the flip side, he’s not as physical as the current staff prefers. Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi were all 220 or more pounds and very physical runners. You give that up with Shady, but add his elusiveness and big play ability.

The Bills are leaking to the media that they will listen to offers, but need at least a 2nd rounder. That is clearly nuts. You would give up a 4th or 5th round pick for a 30-year old RB averaging 3.8 ypc. If they stick by that demand, you shake your head and pass.

What about the character question? Shady was less than perfect while with the Eagles. There were some serious allegations made against him by his ex-girlfriend this summer. Is this a guy you really want to bring into the locker room? The Eagles weren’t choirboys last year, but had no one with those type issues.

The Eagles are as thorough as any team in the league when it comes to background checks and taking character issues very seriously. They have taken some really good players off their draft board in recent years due to character concerns. Some were legal issues, others as simple as personality. The Eagles don’t want anyone who they don’t think will fit in. They don’t want anyone who is going to be a major distraction.

If the Eagles make a deal, they will have done their research and concluded that Shady can help this team on the field and not be an issue off it.

To a certain extent, the same questions apply to Bell due to his drug issues. He was suspended for multiple games in 2016 for failing at least his second drug test since entering the NFL. We can argue the merits of marijuana, but it is against the rules for now.

RB David Johnson – ARZ

The Cardinals should build their offense around Johnson, but they’ve used him awkwardly this season, making you wonder if they would be willing to deal him. Johnson is a gifted runner and receiver and would be an ideal addition. I’d certainly call about him, but wouldn’t expect the Cards to be receptive.

S Karl Joseph – OAK

The Raiders are off to a 1-5 start and things are getting ugly. Jon Gruden is reportedly shopping several players. Joseph has been hurt recently, but I’m not sure why he’s not part of the team’s long term plans. Joseph is a good hitter and tackler. He’s 25-years old and has 24 career starts. Joseph isn’t a big playmaker, but he could help a banged up secondary.

CB Patrick Peterson – ARZ

Peterson is one of the top cover corners in the league. I can only guess the Cardinals are open to shopping him because they are in rebuilding mode and he’s 28. Peterson would not be cheap so this move would be complicated. You would have to make sure Jim Schwartz and the defensive staff were all-in on adding him and knowing how to use him.

The Eagles might have to give up Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby (along with picks) to get Peterson, but adding a talent like him would help any secondary. He would give you a player to match up with the top receivers. Then the other DBs could cheat to the other side of the field.

Cost would be an issue, but this would interest the heck out of me.

CB Gareon Conley – OAK

There are no rumors about Conley being shopped. That said, he did not play at all in today’s game. Instead, Gruden went with veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Gruden going with a veteran like DRC on a bad team is so very Gruden.

The Eagles liked Conley quite a bit prior to the 2017 draft. He had the ability to play in the slot or out wide. If the Raiders are down on him, the Eagles might have interest. They could certainly use his versatility this season.

WR Amari Cooper – OAK

Jay Glazer reported that Cooper and Joseph were being shopped by the Raiders. Could it really be this simple.

Cooper is young, productive and talented. He has some size at 6-1, 210. The Eagles like WRs who have size so he makes sense in that regard. The Eagles offense has picked up since the return of Alshon Jeffery, but the receiving corps could still use a boost.

Cooper did take a big hit to the head in today’s game and was being checked for a concussion.

*****

Here are some names that could make sense. This is pure speculation.

CB Richard Sherman

SF added the veteran CB with the expectation that they would compete this year. Then Jimmy G tore his ACL and things changed in a big way. You wonder if they might be open to dealing him. Sherman has a strong, forceful personality so this would have to be carefully checked out and planned. h/t to Iggles Nut for coming up with this idea.

S Landon Collins

The Giants are a bad team. Collins is in the final year of his deal. If the Giants have any hesitation about re-signing him, trading him could make some sense. Collins was great his first couple of seasons, but it doesn’t seem like he’s played to the same level the last couple of years. Still, he would be an interesting target for the Eagles.

S Tyrann Mathieu

I loved this idea when the Texans were losing to the Bills, but then Houston came back to win that game. If Houston started to have doubts about their season, dealing Mathieu would make some sense. He signed a one-year deal with them when a lot of other teams were dragging their feet when it came to safeties. Unfortunately, the Texans are now 3-3 and tied for the division lead. They would need to lose the next couple of games before considering a move like this. Doubtful, but worth Howie making a call.

DT Adam Gotsis

The Eagles liked Gotsis prior to the 2016 draft. Denver shocked some people by taking him in the 2nd round. Gotsis has slowly developed into a solid NFL player. I don’t know how the Broncos coaches feel about him at this point. With Denver sitting at 2-4 and looking up at the Chiefs and Chargers, they might be open to dealing him. Worth a call. Gotsis has played 3-4 DE and DT for Denver, but would be a DT for the Eagles.

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Youth Movement

Posted: October 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles want to repeat as Super Bowl champs. They had that in mind when making moves in the offseason.

In a league where youth is prized, the Eagles re-signed 35-year old Darren Sproles and 33-year old Corey Graham. They brought LT Jason Peters back for another year. He’s 36. All three of those players have been injured this year. They have produced mixed results on the field.

The Eagles signed 34-year old Haloti Ngata to add depth to the DL. An injury to Tim Jernigan pushed Ngata into more snaps. He has missed the last two games.

32-year old Mike Wallace was signed to give the team a vertical threat. He didn’t do much in the preseason and got hurt before even catching one pass this season. Wallace is on injured reserve.

It is fair to question whether the Eagles should have had any of these players on the roster.

DeAndre Carter has taken over Sproles role as the return specialist. Carter is in the Top 10 in the league as a PR, with 12.7 yards per PR. He averages 20 yards per KOR. Carter looks like he could be a long term fit as the team’s RS.

Wendell Smallwood has gotten a lot of Sproles touches on offense. Smallwood is playing the best football of his young career. He’s not doing anything special, but has been effective as part of the RB rotation the Eagles are using.

Peters has started each game, but has missed plenty of time. Big V has stepped in when needed and done a solid job.

Ngata has one sack and 6 tackles this year. He’s been effective, but hasn’t stood out in a big way. Treyvon Hester was signed just a few weeks back and has played well each of the last two games. He is good vs the run and disruptive. The Eagles were high on him coming out of college and he looks like a good fit for Jim Schwartz’s scheme.

Rookie Avonte Maddox has taken over as the starting FS. He has played well and could develop into the FS of the future. Maddox takes good angles to the ball and he’s smart. He tackles well. He has good ball skills. I’m not saying he’ll be next in line with Dawk and Wes Hopkins, but Maddox could be a good starting FS.

The funny thing about all of this is that the Eagles have made some tough decisions. They cut Brent Celek with no one ready to fill his spot. They moved on from Jon Dorenbos to Rick Lovato. They moved on from Donnie Jones to Cameron Johnston. All of those moves have worked out well for the Eagles.

I understand the loyalty that Doug Pederson has to Sproles. Or Jeff Stoutland to Peters. Or Schwartz to Graham. Those players helped you win games. They contributed to a team that won the Super Bowl. Moving on from them is not easy.

The 2019 Eagles will be a younger team. They have a lot of draft picks. I also think Howie Roseman and Pederson will think twice before bringing back guys in their mid-30’s. After all, the Eagles won last year without Sproles and Peters. Football is a young man’s game. The Eagles probably need to keep that in mind as they consider making moves for the rest of this season.

*****

This is nuts.

*****

The Giants once led the rivalry with the Eagles 46-26-1. Not anymore.

The Eagles have owned the G-men in recent years. Will be cool when the Eagles finally take the lead in the series.

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