Cary Williams revisited his words, the coordinators spoke, Nate Allen was "demoted" (or maybe he wasn't), the Eagles made a trade, and a bunch of really smart people continue to break down the Eagles' first preseason game. Today's "What they're saying" is loaded with great stuff...
"It will be a weapon for us and a tool in our toolbox," Kelly said of the fast-paced no-huddle after the game, according to the team’s website. Even at Oregon, Kelly's offense had not one but three speeds: red light (slow), yellow light (medium: team gets to the line but quarterback can slow it down and change plays), and green light (superfast: get to the line and run the play). Good defenses will adapt to any pace, but a good no-huddle — whether it’s Kelly's Eagles, Peyton Manning's Broncos, or Tom Brady's Patriots — will vary the speed, using it strategically, waiting to put its foot on the gas pedal precisely when the defense has the wrong personnel stuck on the field.
Against the Patriots, the Eagles didn't use a lot of their superfast tempo, but when they did it was effective. About midway through Vick's first drive, the Eagles sped up the pace after a 22-yard completion to Jason Avant, and two plays later Vick hit DeSean Jackson streaking down the right sideline for a touchdown. After the game, Vick talked about how the Patriots had been trying to disguise their coverages, but the quick tempo helped force the Patriots safeties to show that Jackson would be single-covered.
In case you missed my notes yesterday, which has a bunch of illustrations...
Punt return drills are always fun to watch at practice. The only two punt returners today, initially anyway, were DeSean Jackson and Damaris Johnson. As noted in previous recaps, the punt returners field punts while holding tennis balls in each hands. This forces them to catch the ball with their body. Damaris never really had much of an issue with it, but DeSean did. Today, they were both perfect.
However, at one point, LeSean McCoy joined in on his own and wanted to field some punts. Chip Kelly obilged. Shady had four chances to catch a punt, and he misjudged them all. He muffed one, had one sail about five yards over his head, and he actually caught two of them, albeit over his head, Rod Woodson style. After the one that sailed over Shady's head, Kelly laughed at him:
We have a depth chart change. Rookie Earl Wolff is lining up alongside Patrick Chung at safety with the first team. T-Mac has more on the position change. Billy Davis won’t say that the move has anything to do with Nate Allen struggling vs. the Patriots. But obviously, it does. If Allen played well Friday night, he wouldn’t have gotten bumped.
Greg reviewed Matt Barkley, Lane Johnson, Bennie Logan, Jake Knott, and Zach Ertz.
“I thought Lane did a really nice job especially [for his] first game,” Kelly said. “I think very consistent. He may have been our most consistent offensive lineman the way coach [Jeff Stoutland] graded out. He knew exactly what he was doing. Didn't have any mental errors, plays with great effort.
“He's always trying to make the extra play and play into the whistle. But his first game, he didn't really stick out like a rookie in a good way. You know, sometimes I think they stick out as rookies in a poor way where they're going in the wrong direction or they're caught up in it. But I don't think he was by any stretch.”
When rookie safety Earl Wolff walked into the defensive backs meeting room on Monday morning, he saw his name listed atop the depth chart. Wolff paired with Patrick Chung in a place that Nate Allen typically occupies and the spot Allen played while the first-team defense struggled in Friday's preseason loss to the Patriots.
"I'm going to have a great day and show the coaches I can play with the ones," Wolff said, referring to the first-team players.
Davis had his work cut out for him in the media tent, but he made a credible, impassioned plea to give his group some time before making any lasting judgments.
"All our players have to have a mindset that if they master their position, and they are great -- that if you're a corner, you're a lockdown corner, if you're a 'backer, you're a tackling machine, or a pass rusher, you're at the quarterback all the time. Everyone needs to have the mindset to be great at their spot for our defense to be feared," Davis said, the day after cornerback Williams said no one fears the Eagles' defense, that it lacks toughness and swagger.
Asked specifically about Williams' criticisms, Davis said: "If you're making the plays, you're tough and you're feared and you're aggressive. When you're not making your plays, it's not coming off that way. All of them have to have the mindset of being feared and nasty and tough and gritty in what they do."
Michael Vick was sharp against the Patriots as he completed four of five throws for 94 yards and heaved a picture-perfect touchdown pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Despite Vick's impressive outing, Foles does not feel any additional pressure to deliver a superlative start of his own.
"No, I just need to go out there and play," Foles said. "I need to go out there and execute the offense and put points on the board. That's always been the ultimate goal. Just learn from the last (game) and move forward, just take these practices and get better. It's the same way I've approached everything I've always done. I'm not changing anything. I'm going to keep doing the things that I've done my whole life that got me here, and that is just work as hard as I possibly can and take it one play a time."
The Nate Menkin era in Philadelphia is over before it ever got started. The Eagles traded Menkin to the Texans for former Oregon WR Jeff Maehl. In his senior season playing under Chip Kelly at Oregon in 2010, Maehl had 77 catches for 1076 yards and an impressive 12 TDs. Here are Maehl's measureables from the 20111 NFL Combine:
Zach Ertz looks like he needs some serious work. He's not a speedy receiver (only 4.68 second 40 yard dash) and he looks totally lost blocking. Here Ertz is at the top of the formation letting Jerod Mayo (admittedly a good linebacker) get by him without so much as slowing him down. While the offensive line is getting a good push up the middle, Mayo comes in off the edge unblocked and makes the tackle:
Think about Bryce Brown. He left Tennessee after a year. He washed out at Kansas State. He flashed great talent last year, but has been highly inconsistent this spring and summer. I think the coaches got real worried about how he handled the success of 2012. Brown was good last year, but that showing didn’t earn him job security. His track record screams “Don’t trust me.”
Chris Polk came into the offseason as a man on a mission. He was in top shape. He went all-out every day and has had a great Training Camp. Polk was rewarded with the starting job last week with Shady out. There is no question that Brown is more gifted. The coaches sent a message to Brown that big potential isn’t enough. You must perform well in practice and games. Last year is irrelevant. This is 2013. Show us how good you can be.
Brown got the message and played well in the game. The challenge for him now is to practice well. If he does that, Brown will be the backup tailback and could have a big season. He is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. He just needs to show up 7 days a week, not just on gameday.
Goals for 2013
- Install the offense and prove that it can work.
- Install the new defensive scheme.
- Fix the special teams, ideally bringing the unit at least close to league average.
- Identify a few young players that can fill long-term starting roles.
That’s really it. Obviously the goal is also to win, but considering how bad the team was last season and the fact that there is a new coach and entirely new system to install, this season’s main purpose is as a stepping stone to future success. This is the filter through which I’m viewing the preseason. I encourage everyone else to do the same.
So…Preseason game 1, through the lens that I just described:
One last note: If you haven't heard of the Eagles Almanac, I recommend you find $10 in the seat cushions and pony up for a copy of your own.
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