Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quite the Turnaround

            The Eagles turnaround from worst to first was impressive for several reasons, the fact that so many of the key players on the current roster were the same players who came in last in 2012, the fact that an entirely new defensive scheme was introduced, a bend-but-don’t break 3-4  that was almost 180 degrees opposite from the previous regime’s blitz-heavy 4-3, the fact that a new head coach with no NFL experience was bringing all sorts of new philosophies (quick tempo, different practice schedule, a reliance on sports science) to a team full of jaded NFL veterans who were likely to rebel against this college coaches ideas, and, perhaps most impressively, the team’s ability to gel despite the potentially fractious nature of the Riley Cooper fiasco makes this division title all the more remarkable. 

            After losing their first four home games of the season the Eagles now have a home playoff game, against the offensively prolific Saints, a tough matchup, but one that should be easier for the Eagles to play in the cold of Philadelphia rather than the Superdome in New Orleans where the Saints are almost unstoppable.  Win or lose, it has been an incredible season for Chip Kelly and the Eagles. The game Saturday night should continue this incredibly entertaining season , one made even more so in comparison with the desultory 2012.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The “Blizzard Game’ shows difference between Kelly & Reid

I love snow gams in the NFL , but for a while it looked like it was really going to kill the Eagles in their game against the Lions. The Eagles did nothing in the first half offensively. The passing game was non-existent and it looked like Shady McCoy wouldn’t be able to employ his patented jump cuts and direction changes with the footing so uncertain.  I even wanted them to play Polk with his power running style instead of LeSean (good thing I'm not coaching).  Kelly made adjustments at halftime, however, changing to a running McCoy between the tackles and even taking advice from a defensive back who suggested long post patterns, assuming correctly, that if he couldn’t turn and run with a receiver their defenders wouldn’t be able to do so either. Reid, for all his strengths, and his greatest was meticulous planning, was unable to adjust quickly. Convinced his detailed gameplan was the right way to attack a team, he stubbornly refused to adjust when the opponent provided evidence to the contrary. Kelly,  on the other hand, really seems to understand how to use his offensive personnel, and it appears he lets the defensive coaches run the defense...imagine that!  He's improving on his game management as well (his early troubles seem to be from inexperience with the pro-game (understandable) and because he was focusing on teaching his schemes to the players (also understandable). Things bode well for the future, and they should be able to concentrate on the defense in the draft (they are not terrible by any means, but some more athletic secondary players would be nice). Of course, if Johnny Manziel is there (he won't be), you still grab him. As good as Foles has been playing, Manziel looks perfect for Kelly’s offense. I'd plan on keeping Foles the starter going into 2014. If he falters next year, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota should be coming out in 2015 and the Eagles we can try for him.