<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Birds' Nest ]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/blogs/birds-nest http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.comen-usFri, 27 May 2016 08:34:19 -0400Fri, 27 May 2016 08:34:19 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[The Andy Reid Era in Philly]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2013 05:48:58 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Andy+Reid+2005+Super+Bowl+XXXIX+Smile.jpg After 14 years and the most wins in franchise history, the Eagles let Andy Reid go. Take a look back at Big Red's ups and downs from his run as Eagles head coach.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philly DA Calls Riley Incident a 'Teachable Moment']]> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 23:47:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Riley+Cooper+HElmet.jpg

Just one day after Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper apologized after video surfaced of him saying the N-word while threatening to fight someone at a country music concert last month, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says he hopes the incident will be used as a ‘teachable moment.’

“Like all Philadelphians and Eagles fans everywhere I was very upset to watch the video of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and the racially incendiary words that he used, “ said Williams during a press conference today. 

“(The Eagles) can use this as a teachable moment not only for him (Riley) but maybe the city as a whole to deal with racism, insensitive language…because often in my line of work those are fighting words and a lot happens when people use insensitive words in the wrong situation."

Williams says two members of the Eagles organization reached out to him and other city leaders last night for advice about what to do about the incident which made national headlines and sparked debate.

“This city loves the Eagles. All your radio shows, sports radio shows are talking about this today and nothing else,” said Williams. “I was appreciative that they reached out to me to suggest some charities and community based organizations and faith-based organizations that he might work with. That might be of great use and might make his ignorant behavior and repulsive behavior...maybe there could be a silver lining in his unfortunate words,” said Williams.

Williams said that Riley should expect backlash for his comments for some time.

“It won’t be over today I am sure he will hear a lot about it moving forward,” said Williams. “I think it’s important for him to learn and for him to talk to others about what he has learned. And hopefully that can help other people from making the same mistake. Because situations often in Philadelphia...when people use the wrong words go from just being a person can’t get somewhere at a concert to people in an emergency room.”

The Eagles released a statement this afternoon shortly after Williams' press conference.

“In meeting with Riley yesterday, we decided together that his next step will be to seek outside assistance to help him fully understand the impact of his words and actions. He needs to reflect. As an organization, we will provide the resources he needs to do so.”

Kenny Chesney, who's concert at the Linc served as the scene of Cooper's racist slur, also weighed in today saying he was stunned to see the video, according to CSNPhilly.com.

"I am as anyone to see the video of Riley Cooper that's started circulating on the internet,” Chesney told ESPN senior writer LZ Granderson. "I don't believe in discrimination in ANY form, and I think using language like that is not only unacceptable, it is hateful beyond words.” 

"I'm disgusted and I'm sorry," Riley Cooper said during an emotional press conference Wednesday. "That's not the type of person I am."

Cooper attended a Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field in June. While at the concert, Cooper was involved in a confrontation in the parking lot. Video of Cooper confronting two men was released back on June 9 via Crossing Broad. While the footage shows the men yelling at each other, no punches were actually thrown.

Credit: YouTube.com/CrossingBroad

On Wednesday, new video of Cooper from inside the concert surfaced. The video shows one of Cooper’s friends trying to calm him down as he angrily points towards someone in the crowd.

“I will jump that fence and fight every n***er here,” he says in the video.

Credit: YouTube.com/CrossingBroad

According to Cooper, he was speaking to an African American security guard.

"There was a confrontation with me and one of the security guards," he said. "I'm not going to get into what happened. I said something that was actually disgusting and terrible. I shouldn't have handled it the way I handled it."

Cooper also admitted he had been drinking before the incident.

"I was drinking but that is no excuse for what I said and what I did," he said. "Absolutely not."

Cooper also said that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman fined him, though he did not say how much.

Lurie also released a statement in response to the video.

“We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words," Lurie said. "This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society.  He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.“

"It was a good amount of money but that's really not important," Cooper said. "The situation should not have been dealt with the way I dealt with it. I'm willing to accept all consequences."

Throughout the press conference, Cooper repeatedly apologized while insisting that the moment was out of character.

"I don't use that term," Cooper said. "I was raised way better than that. I've got a great mom and dad at home. They are disgusted by my actions. This is kind of the lowest of lows. This isn't the type of person that I am."

Cooper also said that he planned on reaching out to his African American teammates.

"I’m going to tell them exactly what I’m telling you guys, how extremely sorry I am and how I should have never said what I said," he said. "Most of the ones that know me know the type of person I am."

Later during the day, Michael Vick claimed he spoke with Cooper for 15 minutes and then addressed the team during an open dialogue session.

“Riley came to us as a man and apologized for what he did,” Vick said. “As a team we understood because we all make mistakes in life and we all do and say things that maybe we do mean and maybe we don’t mean. But as a teammate I forgave him. We understand the magnitude of the situation. We understand a lot of people may be hurt and offended, but I know Riley Cooper. I know him as a man. I’ve been with him for the last three years and I know what type of person he is. That’s what makes it easy, and at the same time, hard to understand. But easy to forgive him.”

"I still love him as a teammate and still look at him as one of my brothers," said Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox.

"We all make mistakes and say things that we shouldn't say," said Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "We all just forgive him and brought it up as a team. That was the end of it."

READ: Eagles React to Cooper's Use of Racial Epithet

Vick's brother Marcus appeared to have plenty to say about the video on his twitter account.

"Hey I'm putting a bounty on Riley's head," he tweeted. "1K to the first Free Safety or Strong Safety that light his a** up! Wake him up please."

Vick also tweeted, "Hahaha! Peace of s***. Who want to play on a team with guys like that? Riley Cooper you're a **** boy!!! Racist peace of s***."

Shortly after 8 p.m., however, Vick tweeted, "My page was hacked!" His previous tweets were then deleted.

Michael Vick spoke out against his brother's tweets.

"To address my brother's situation and what he's saying, I don't think it's really relevant,'' Vick said. "You can't allow yourself to be encumbered in what's going on. I don't agree with what my brother is saying. Riley is still my teammate and he just stood in front of us and apologized for what he said. Somewhere deep down you've got to find some level of respect for that. To people in the outside world who don't know how we're dealing with it, they're going to forge their own opinions, but my brother has to not show a certain level of ignorance himself.''

NBC10 spoke with Eagles fans about Cooper's comments. Their reactions were mixed.

"It's a racial slur," said Bobbi Jo. "It's going to hurt anyone."

"I feel some type of way because he's representing Philadelphia," said Mimi Finn.

Carl Jones however believes Cooper deserves a second chance.

"Everybody makes mistakes," he said. "I'm still gonna be a good fan of his."

A fifth-round pick out of Florida, Cooper is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He has 46 catches and five touchdowns in three years with the Eagles.

Cooper had tentatively moved into a starting role after Jeremy Maclin tore his right ACL in practice last Saturday. Still, he's not guaranteed a roster spot in Chip Kelly's new offense.

The NFL also released the following statement: "he NFL stands for diversity and inclusion. Comments like this are wrong, offensive, and unacceptable.''

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Player Unloads on IRS]]> Thu, 16 May 2013 12:02:17 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Evan+Mathis+IRS+Thumb.jpg

Eagles starting offensive lineman Evan Mathis has never strayed far from controversy even calling fans "idiots" for wanting former Eagles coach Andy Reid fired.

This time Mathis’ anger was geared towards the Internal Revenue Service.

Per Pro Football Talk:

Like most if not all Americans, Eagles offensive lineman Evan Mathis doesn’t like it.  Unlike most if not all Americans, Mathis has opted to make his views known, in an entertaining way.

“Audit This,” tweeted Mathis as he posted an Instagram photo of him appearing to urinate on the sign for the IRS’ offices.

In the midst of a federal scandal involving the IRS’ treatment of Tea party and other right-wing non-profit groups Mathis’ photo created plenty of chatter online even getting its own Mashable writeup along with plenty of comments and retweets.

The most interesting aspect of the photo however could be the boot on Mathis’ left leg confirming an earlier CSNPhilly.com report that Mathis would miss the Eagles recent OTAs after ankle surgery.

Photo Credit: Twitter - @EvanMathis69]]>
<![CDATA[Former Eagle Stars in New Movie]]> Thu, 02 May 2013 04:43:12 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TROTTER.gif Former Eagles Pro Bowl lineback Jeremiah Trotter is now trying out a different field-- acting. NBC10's John Clark reports that Trotter is helping share the story of a former slave.]]> <![CDATA[Andy Reid Really Enjoying K.C.'s BBQs]]> Thu, 02 May 2013 07:18:18 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Andy+Reid+Chiefs.jpg

For a long time, the joke among Eagles fans was something along the lines of, “Andy Reid might miss his time outs but he never misses a meal.”

Well, with the rotund coach now in Kansas City, his tastes have turned from Tastykakes and cheesesteaks to good-old-fashioned barbecue.

In an interview on Sirius XM Radio, Reid told “Schein on Sports” host Adam Schein that he has eaten at dozens of K.C.’s famous barbecue joints.

"I've eaten at about 50 Kansas City BBQ places and I haven't found one I don't like," is the Reid quote tweeted by New York-area sportscaster Andrew Catalon during the show -- a tweet that Schein retweeted.

That would mean that Reid has put a pretty big dent into K.C.'s heralded barbecues. A Yelp search for "BBQ" comes back with 79 restaurants featuring barbeque in "Kansas City" -- an area that includes restaurants in both Missouri and Kansas.

It appeared Reid meant the comment as a joke -- something he’s done in the past when talking about food.

For now it seems that the ex-Eagles coach, who recently took Eric Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick, is enjoying his new gig in the Midwest from the team to the grub.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Eagle Provides Inspiration for Bombing Victims]]> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 14:55:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Kevin_Reilly_Eagles.jpg Former Eagles linebacker Kevin Reilly, who lost his arm due to cancer, has been able to provide inspiration to those who were injured during the Boston Marathon attack. NBC10's Tim Furlong has the story.]]> <![CDATA[Navy Seal Helps Whip Eagles Into Shape]]> Wed, 03 Apr 2013 00:35:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Navy-Seal-Eagles.jpg New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is implementing several innovative techniques to get the team into shape. He even called on a Navy Seal to serve as a strength and conditioning coach. NBC10's John Clark has the story.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Move Means Less Dough for Bethlehem Businesses]]> Sat, 16 Mar 2013 06:44:34 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Campus+Pizza+Bethlehem.jpg

The Eagles announced today that after 17 years they would no long hold training camp at Lehigh University, leaving businesses near the campus dealing with the reality of less money coming in this year.

Eagles training camp practices were free but that didn’t mean that the thousands of football fans coming from near and far were leaving town without dropping some dough in Bethlehem, Pa.

For a decade, the Copperhead Grille on Route 378 has been one of the first (and last) restaurants fans from the Philly area would see as they turned from Route 309 on the way to training camp.

“During training camp we see about a 10-percent increase in our lunch business,” said Copperhead Grille co-owner Mike Dontas.

As you walk into the Grille one of the first things to greet you is an old-school Chuck Bednarik Eagles jersey hanging on the wall. Bethlehem’s favorite son, mementos from the Hall of Famer’s career grace the walls of many local restaurants including the Tally Ho Tavern on of many restaurants along W 4th Street in the city’s South Side neighborhood.

Tally Ho chief financial officer and daytime manager Dave Swirczewski says Eagles football brought people from near and far to the tavern and its outdoor seating area.

“There’s a fairly good lunch trade from it… we’ve had a few players up on our deck in summer,” Swirczewski said as he sat in a booth in the back of the tavern.

“What it really did more than anything else was that it brought people who wouldn’t have been here otherwise…. They’re pretty easy to spot, they got their Eagles gear on.”

Some businesses along 4th Street at the foot of Lehigh’s campus couldn’t speculate on how hard the hit would be but others had an idea.

“I think it’s going to affect everyone on the South Side,” Swirczewski said.

“It’s gonna affect business,” said Anthony Silvoy as he made sandwiches behind the counter of The Goose on W 4th Street. “You’d get some decent crowds.”

Down 4th Street, Campus Pizza owner Angelo Caiazzo estimates that training camp normally bumped up sales 15 to 20 percent.

“It got us through the summers,” Caiazzo said from behind the counter of his pizza parlor.

“It’s just less of a piece of the pie to have now… after that is taken away it’s just going to be a little bit slower than normal.”

The summer is already slower for many businesses on the South Side.

NBC10.com reached out to both Lehigh University and Mayor John Callahan’s office but neither gave any comment on how much money exactly would be lost.

At the locally-owned and operated Hotel Bethlehem in the city’s Historic Downtown District general manager Dennis Costello estimated that they would lose about $25,000 without the Eagles in town.

“It was a nice little loyal crowd,” Costello said sitting in the lavish lobby of the 91-plus-year-old hotel. “They’d come back, the same people every year.”

Depending on the year, he said that the hotel would book 20 to 30 rooms because of training camp.

“They generally tended to spend two, three, four nights at the hotel. They’d have breakfast here, they’d have drinks.”

Costello also said that Eagles fans would go to nearby restaurants and stores where they would spend more money.

But on Friday nearly every person NBC10.com approached wasn’t as worried about the money as they were sad about the Birds flying the coop.

“From a business perspective we’re going to miss the retail sales and if you’re a (regular) patron of the bar you’re going to miss the sightings of some Eagles,” said Swirczewski.

The biggest summer for these businesses was in 2004 when the arrival of Terrell Owens and a Super Bowl-caliber team drew record crowds to Eagles practice. Since then nearly every business we entered said they’ve seen steady traffic, some even saying business had picked up again in recent years.

“It’s just going to be sad not to have those people here,” Dontas said. He said Copperhead Grille would often add shifts during training camp and he even recalled times when they would open before 11 a.m. because there would already be Eagles fans playing football in the parking lot as they waited to get a bite.

“It’s just going to be sad not to have those people here,” Dontas said.

“It’s not going to close us down, obviously, but at the same time it’s good to have that little extra business from fans.”

Photo Credit: NBC10.com - Dan Stamm]]>
<![CDATA[The Newest Eagles Arrive]]> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:10:38 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/New-Eagles-Arrive.jpg It was a busy day for the Birds. First the team parted ways with Nnamdi Asomugha. Then they signed five new players. NBC10's John Clark spoke to some of those players when they arrived at Philly International.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Violent Threats Force Vick to Cancel Book Signings]]> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 12:14:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Michael+Vick+Serious.jpg

Several book signings by Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick have been canceled due to threats of violence against Vick and his family, according to a family spokesperson.

Vick was scheduled to sign copies of his book “Michael Vick: Finally Free” at Barnes and Noble stores in Atlanta, New Jersey and Exton, Pennsylvania. All three appearances have been canceled however because of safety concerns.

“This was a joint decision between Michael Vick’s advisers and the publisher,” said Vick family spokesman Chris Shigas. “They were canceled because of a recent uptick in credible threats of violence against Michael Vick, his family, the bookstores and the book store employees.”

Many people flooded the Barnes and Noble's Facebook page with comments after word of Vick's scheduled appearances spread.

One person wrote, "I would go there to slit your throat knowing how you treat animals."

Another person wrote, "Hope your kids don't fall in a pool with a battery."

Shigas claims multiple threats were made, with some even being posted on Vick’s Facebook page.

“There just seemed to be a collective, very few extremists who were noting the time and the place where these events would be,” said Shigas. “They were working to gather support to commit acts of violence. They wrote and said disgusting things, including going after his fans with words of racism, including the N-word."

Police continue to investigate the threats.

“We’re going to work with authorities and we’re confident that they’re taken the threat seriously and that they’ll investigate it accordingly,” said Shigas.

Byron Williamson, the President of Worthy Publishing, the company who published Vick’s book, also told Philadelphia Magazine the following:

While we stand by Michael Vick’s right to free speech and the retailers’ right to free commerce, we cannot knowingly put anyone in harm’s way, and therefore we must announce the cancellation of Mr. Vick’s book-signing appearances. We’ve been assured these threats of violence, which have been reported to the police, are being taken very seriously by local authorities.

Vick has been surrounded by controversy since he joined the Eagles in 2009 following a 19-month stint in federal prison for running a dog fighting operation.

"It's kind of ridiculous that after being a part of the Philadelphia community for this long which is supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love, he's receiving death threats," said Brandon Bower of Coatesville. "It seems kind of ridiculous to me."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jenkins Understands Business Side to Release]]> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 18:36:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Cullen+Jenkins+Released.jpg

Cullen Jenkins is an Eagle no more.

The Birds released the veteran defensive tackle this afternoon in a somewhat surprising turn of events.

“It was a little shocking,” Jenkins spoke first to NBC10’s John Clark right after his release.

Jenkins said he hadn’t heard anything about his future with the team prior to getting a call from general manager Howie Roseman earlier today.

“You're just appreciative and you understand that there is a business side to it.”

Releasing Jenkins opens the door for Fletcher Cox and other younger players while saving cap money the Eagles can use to sign other vets.

The team’s website reports the 32-year-old, who started every game for the Eagles since joining the team before the 2011 season, was due to make $5.5 million this season.

Jenkins says the team never came to him about restructuring his deal.

Now the veteran of 10 NFL seasons is searching for a job -- uprooting his family once again including his children from schools they have come to like. It’s something that Clark says is a tough truth of being a professional athlete.

“It’s a part of the player’s life,” Clark said. “You never really think about it.”

Jenkins says he felt terrible that he and other big free-agent signees from the so-called “Dream Team” 2011 offseason never panned out.

“It wasn’t all the right attitudes together, we bought in a lot of pieces and all the pieces didn’t fit together,” Jenkins said. “I thought it would work… coming to the Eagles where there was a long history of going to the playoffs every year, always having a chance to compete… I thought we had a good chance of at least going to the playoffs every year.”

“The team just didn’t come together and gel like everyone thought it would and was expected to. And, it was just a shame.”

Roseman and the Eagles thanked the 6-foot-2-inch, 305-pounder for all his hard work (including 9.5 sacks and 77 tackles) during his two-year tenure in Philly.

“He has been a very productive player in this league for a long time but we felt it in our team’s best interests that we go in a different direction. By releasing him at this point, it gives he and his agent more time to sign on with another team. We wish Cullen and his family all the best as he continues his NFL career.”

Jenkins told Clark that he appreciated the chance to catch on early with another team.

And Jenkins had a message to Eagles fans:

“To the Eagles fans, just thank you, thanks for the opportunity. I know Eagles fans get a bad rap but you’re just a really passionate set of fans... There were some really tough times but there were a lot of fans who stuck through it with us and cheered for us in the good times.”

Jenkins wasn't he only Eagles defensive tackle let go Monday. Former first-round pick Mike Patterson was released after recording 551 tackles and 16.5 sacks in eight seasons with the Birds.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[A Deeper Look at the Billy Davis Defense]]> Sat, 09 Feb 2013 01:29:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Billy+Davis+Eagles+DC.jpg

It's easy to make snap judgments about assistant coach hires and their past record on other teams. New Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis certainly doesn't have a sparkling resume as a coordinator on paper. But he has tons of experience in 3-4 schemes, and recently has employed more of the hybrid look that many fans were clamoring for when Gus Bradley was in town.

In Arizona, where Davis was linebackers coach for two seasons and defensive coordinator for another two, his preferred scheme was the "4-3 Under." The name is deceptive, because it's not a classic 4-3 look like we're used to seeing from the Eagles. It borrows elements from both the 3-4 and 4-3, and depending on the formation, can lineup looking like either.

You can (and should) read about it directly from Davis' mouth here and here. But let me show you, to the best of my ability. Here's what the base 4-3 Under defense looks like:

Let's start up front and work our way back. If you focus on the two defensive linemen DE-NT on the strongside (left) of the formation, the look is similar to a lot of 3-4 schemes. The nose tackle should be a big run stuffer who ideally can occupy two blockers. He'll often come off the field in passing situations. On the strongside, there's a defensive end whose primary job is similar to the all-around 3-4 defensive end: get some pressure, but mainly stuff the run.

Coming to the weakside (right), you look more for pass rushers. Because the nose tackle will be occupying two linemen in the middle, both your defensive tackle and end should have mostly one-on-one matchups. This is where you want to get a lot of pressure. That defensive end, known as the "Predator" in Davis' scheme, is going to rush nearly every play, so he doesn't have to be as versatile as your typical 3-4 outside linebacker. However, he looks like that 3-4 player at times because he can move around, rush from a standing position, and occasionally drop into a zone.

Moving to the linebackers, let's start with the strongside (SLB). Last year in the Eagles' more typical 4-3 scheme, the strongside backer was mostly a coverage guy who handled the tight end. In this defense he's much more of the classic 3-4 OLB. He's going to stand up at the line and engage the tight end, but he'll often pass rush instead of dropping back into coverage.  With a player like this, you're adding some of the great unpredictability of a 3-4 defense.

The middle linebacker in this scheme has to be someone willing to go up against offensive linemen. As you can see in the diagram, unless the nose tackle holds a double team, the MLB is heads-up against a guard. A slightly bigger "thumper" is necessary here. In contrast, the weakside linebacker is free to roam. Because he lines up behind three defensive linemen, he shouldn't have big blockers coming at him. While the MLB engages in the trenches, this faster player should be flying through the chaos to make the tackle.

The scheme is a nice change from the Wide 9, not because that scheme was fundamentally unsound, but because the 4-3 Under is more flexible and unpredictable. Rather than rushing the same four linemen in the same way every down, you have a 3-4 OLB on the strongside who can cause havoc. You've also set up two of your presumably better pass rushers with great routes to the QB, while still shoring up the run game. On early downs you have a big bodied player clogging up the middle, and on pass plays you can take him out and focus on creative stunts and blitzes.

Importing Davis' ideas also looks good because, at least on paper, it seems perfect for a number of the defenders we want to keep. Fletcher Cox is a great attacking DT. Getting him one-on-one matchups on the weakside should be fantastic for generating inside pressure. The "Predator" DE looks like a great opportunity for older Trent Cole and/or emerging Brandon Graham to pin their ears back. DeMeco Ryans, at 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, should be able to admirably fill the MLB role, while speedy Mychal Kendricks slips right into the play-making WLB spot.

There are still personnel issues to sort out. Only the disappointing Antonio Dixon has the body type of the prototypical NT. Cedric Thornton showed some promise at defensive tackle last year, but might not be a big enough presence to take on the 3-4 DE role on the strongside. Cullen Jenkins has played that role before, but at 32 he may not make it through cuts. Most importantly, the Eagles definitely don't have a promising candidate to play the strongside linebacker. Here's one description of that player:

The No. 1 reason why more teams don't run a 4-3 Under is the difficulty in finding a player good enough to play the SAM. He needs to be big, strong, fast, and able to cover or rush the passer at any given time. He lines up on the outside edge of the TE at all times, and harasses him off the line, never allowing a free release, staying underneath on routes because you have your safety over the top. He also gets one-on-one matchups on the outside to pass rush.

It's worth noting that there will be a number of potential stud 3-4 OLB-types available at the fourth overall pick. That could be something to watch for as we get closer to the draft.

Want to read more? Check out these links for longer discussion: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Where Does Henery Rank Among NFL Kickers?]]> Sat, 09 Feb 2013 00:11:21 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Alex+Henery+Face.jpg

On paper, Alex Henery had a great 2012 campaign. The Eagles sophomore kicker made 27 of 31 field goal attempts, including a franchise-record 22 in a row. He has been a consistently accurate kicker since the Eagles drafted him in the fourth round in 2011.

Still, Henery has not yet moved from "reliable" to "weapon," the way David Akers once was. He may be headed in the right direction though. In 2011, he attempted only four field goals from 40-49 yards out, and only two beyond that. He made five of those six attempts, but didn't exhibit a big leg. In fact, he struggled to hit long field goals in warm-ups, and Andy Reid shied away from kicking field goals of 50 yards or more.

Last year was a good year for Henery, and he quieted some of the doubters. In addition to his perfect 22-kick string, he connected on 11 of 12 attempts from 40 to 49 yards out. That was huge. Still, his longest make was only 49 yards. Henery's only attempt from beyond that was a 58-yard miss. That makes judging his performance tricky.

In order to do so, let's back up and look at the entire league. I pulled every field goal attempt from the raw play by play data (including those negated by penalty, if I could, but removing blocks) and plotted field goal percentage in 5 yard buckets. Here's what it looks like:

Keep in mind that at the top end (more than 55 yards), there were only 24 total kicks, so the sample size is limited there. But overall this is the state of field goals in today's NFL. Any kick up to 35 yards should have a greater than 90 percent chance of success. Even up to 50 yards out, NFL kickers are averaging more than 75 percent accuracy. And they're still more likely to make a kick than miss it up to 55 yards distance. That's mind blowing.

The frustrating thing about field goal stats is that folks rarely look beyond the overall percentage or a particularly high-profile miss. I tried to do that with the table below, where I plotted every field goal against the "expected" likelihood that it would be made, based on the distance buckets above. The difference between the points they accumulated (or would have, + penalties - blocks) and the expected points shows us how valuable each kicker was in 2012:

The numbers aren't too surprising. Blair Walsh, rookie kicker for the Vikings, came in at No. 1, scoring 13.4 points more than the "average kicker" would have. He only missed three field goals all year, but more importantly, he made 10 of 10 kicks from 50 and beyond. That's incredible (even if he was playing in a dome). At the other end of the spectrum is Mason Crosby of the Packers and our old friend Akers. The former Eagles kicker connected on only 9 of 19 kicks further than 40 yards. It remains to be seen whether that was simply bad luck or a sign that retirement may be coming up for Akers.

As for Henery, he ranked 12th. His field goal percentage was slightly higher than what was expected, and it gave him a 2.5 point lead over the average. That's certainly good, but it's not -- to steal a phrase from Joe Flacco -- elite. Perhaps Henery just didn't have enough opportunities for long kicks, but it would be hard to blame Eagles fans who would rather the team have spent a 6th round pick on Walsh than a 4th round pick on Henery. Hopefully he can continue to improve and justify that investment in 2013 and beyond.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Long Way From the Super Bowl]]> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 19:42:03 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/SUPER-BOWL-logo-2013.jpg

The Super Bowl takes place Sunday and the Eagles will not be participating. Breaking news, everyone.

But in all seriousness, this is the height of the sport, and the Eagles are far, far away from getting back there. Let's just take a moment to realize how far. Look at the 49ers roster and try to think of players on the Eagles who could start for the NFC Champs. It's a short list.

On offense, San Francisco has two quarterbacks who are better than anyone on the Eagles roster. They have an athletic freak of a tight end, and two Pro Bowlers on their mauling offensive line. 2011 Jason Peters could play for them, but not sure you take the 2013 version over Joe Staley. Evan Mathis, the Eagles' best offensive lineman in 2012, is probably a notch below former first-round pick Mike Iupati. I would take LeSean McCoy over Frank Gore, certainly. And DeSean Jackson beats old Randy Moss. But that's all.

Moving to the defensive side brings an even worse comparison. The 49ers have two of the best linebackers in the NFL, Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. They also have two Pro Bowl pass rushers, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, and both Pro Bowl safeties, Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. I love Fletcher Cox and maybe he can sneak in on the defensive line if we're being generous, but that's all.

That's three players -- make it four with Alex Henery over the dearly departed David Akers. You'll get the same results if you compare the Eagles to other championship teams, even the 2004 squad that made it to the Super Bowl. You wouldn't be able to sneak many 2013 Eagles on to that roster.

All of which is to say: this isn't a quick-fix job, it's a long-term rebuilding process. Set your expectations accordingly.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Eagles Quarterback Calendar]]> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 16:00:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/EB+Nick+Foles+Throws+Eyes+Closed.jpg

One of the most intriguing areas to watch this offseason will be the Eagles' maneuvering to find their 2013 quarterback. To that end, there's a clear path that they have to undertake -- and it begins next week. 

Feb. 6: If Michael Vick remains on the roster after this date, $3 million of his salary automatically becomes guaranteed. That makes the 6th the first important marker in the Eagles' decision-making process. Do they keep Vick, absorbing the contract hit because his athleticism may still be the best option for Chip Kelly's offense?

That's unlikely. Vick still has great mobility and a rocket arm, but his decision-making, despite a few years of tutoring from Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, is questionable. Moreover, even if you can keep Vick happy and teach him a new offense, the upside is limited. He still wants to start, but will turn 33 before training camp with significant wear and tear on his body. At best you're buying a stop gap option, and that doesn't seem worth the $3 million guarantee. Expect the Eagles to sever ties with Vick after the Super Bowl.

March 12: Free agency begins. Unfortunately, there aren't many quarterbacks out there of note. Still, the Eagles should be dipping their toes into this pool if they let Vick walk. Players like Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore and Jason Campbell are best suited to a backup role, but they might rather get a shot of competition in Philadelphia than automatically sit on the bench. Are you scraping the bottom of the barrel here? Sure. But every team needs depth and competition at the QB spot, and these options aren't going to be expensive. Maybe you get away without signing someone if you think Trent Edwards can adapt.

April 1: The only potential free agent who actually may be able to start is Alex Smith, currently under contract with the Super Bowl-bound 49ers. Smith, according to reports, has a contract clause that kicks in on April Fools Day that makes his entire $7.5 million salary guaranteed. San Francisco certainly isn't going to pay that, so they will look for suitors before having to cut him outright.

The Smith case will be interesting to watch because of the multitude of factors at play. The Niners have to trade him in the month of March, or else cut him. They have little leverage unless multiple bidders step up. The question is, who would bid highly for Smith? At first glance, there are seven teams who will be in the Franchise QB hunt this offseason: Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia and Arizona. Most of them are in rebuilding phases where buying a soon-to-be 29-year-old quarterback isn't on the agenda.

Plus, John Harbaugh and the 49ers haven't exactly treated Smith like a franchise guy. They openly flirted with Peyton Manning, then benched Smith in the middle of his best season for an unproven second-year player. That doesn't seem like a quarterback in whom you want to invest.

If I were the Eagles, I would part with a 2013 late round pick or a conditional selection in 2014 based on playing time for Smith. Certainly if the 49ers cut him, you have to investigate. He's no great quarterback, but competence and a dash of athleticism could still be valuable.

April 25 to 27: The NFL Draft. If the Eagles handled free agency properly, they should have Nick Foles and at least one other potential starter (or at worst, a fair backup) at this point. You never want to enter the draft with a glaring need, especially at quarterback, or other teams will use that knowledge to their advantage. Plus, you just can't count on getting the guy you want.

Unfortunately, the Eagles (and other teams) are shackled with a poor class of quarterbacks. It's even poorer when you look for guys who could fit Chip Kelly's system. The order of all of these players is still being sorted out, but from what I've been reading, there are only a couple that really interest me. In the first round, Geno Smith out of West Virginia could be an option. No one thinks he's the second coming of RGIII, but he had a lengthy, productive college career throwing from the pocket and has some mobility to boot. Smith also seems likely to score highly on the Football Outsiders Lewin Forecast

While first round picks are less expensive than they once were, the Eagles shouldn't reach for Smith with the fourth overall pick unless they're sure he can be an elite guy. A later round option is EJ Manuel, the Florida State quarterback who was just named Most Outstanding Player at the Senior Bowl. Here's what Mike Tanier said about him recently:

Manuel is impressive on film and when discussing his game. He is not nearly as impressive when standing in a pocket and distributing passes in a stripped-down game plan. He has the size coaches covet (“He looks like a tight end out there,” Detroit Lions/South Squad coach Jim Schwartz said) but his best bet will be to follow the route of (Russel) Wilson: earn a mid-round selection and find a coach amenable to his playing style -- perhaps Chip Kelly, who recruited Manuel out of high school and now coaches the Eagles.

Sounds promising. The nice thing about Manuel is that he potentially fits Kelly's style, and also wouldn't cost a top pick. Consensus suggests he's more of a 3rd to 5th round prospect (at least, before his Senior Bowl performance). At that low risk, I'd draft Manuel in a heartbeat. Let him compete for the job in an up-tempo spread offense like he's used to. If it works out, maybe you've caught something similar to Wilson. If not, move on without any huge cost.

July 22: Training camp will start sometime at the end of July. This is when the real competition begins between free agents, rookies and the incumbent Foles. One note about Foles: I don't have anything against him, but he's essentially the fall back option here. He's cheap and has shown some skills. Don't hand him anything. Let Foles prove that he deserves to start -- and that he can compensate for his lack of running skills.

April 24 to 26 (2014): I've discussed before how the best way to find a franchise quarterback is to keep throwing them at the wall until one sticks. The general outline of pairing Foles with a rookie and a veteran free agent seems like the best way to pursue that path this year. But the nice thing is that you're not wedded to anyone long term. If none of those options work this time, you start over again. Next year's draft could be loaded with talented, athletic quarterbacks like Logan Thomas, Tahj Boyd and Teddy Bridgewater. When at first you don't succeed: try, try again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Hopeful Sign for the Eagles]]> Mon, 28 Jan 2013 17:19:54 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/174*120/132923944.jpg

Football Outsiders hasn't yet released their Adjusted Games Lost metric, which will document how affected each team was by injuries in 2012. In 2011, if you recall, the Eagles placed second among all teams with only 22 "games lost" by players due to injury. That low figure suggested that the team's disappointing season couldn't be excused by bad luck, and that there was little upside in terms of a regression to the mean. The disastrous 2012 campaign showed the truth of that hypothesis.

Although the full metric isn't out yet, we can already see a mixed bag with regard to injuries from last season. I went through and pulled a rough estimate for 2012 of the "games lost" by players because they were on the trainer's table and came up with 65. That would have placed the Eagles near the middle of the league overall. However, there's a massive split comparing offense to defense.

On the Eagles defense, few starters missed games due to injury. Trent Cole missed one, as did Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox. But overall it was a remarkably healthy group. That's not a good thing when you're projecting for 2013. It would be nice to say "If only Nnamdi Asomugha and DeMeco Ryans and Cullen Jenkins were healthy, then things would have gone better." Instead, this was the best performance the Eagles defense could muster, despite staying relatively healthy. Don't expect a lucky bounce back next season.  

The offense is a different story, though. I counted about 60 games missed by starters on offense. Key skill players each missed a handful: Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson. Jason Avant, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin also had a few. All together, that figure would have been right near the top of the league in 2011. But more amazing is the 40 games missed by the offensive line, including 30 just by Jason Peters and Jason Kelce alone. That's a staggering figure that is unlikely to be repeated in 2013.

As I said earlier in the week, the offense has a chance to make a quick recovery if players like Peters and Kelce return to form and the unit avoids the injury bug this year. There's your optimistic note going forward. I wish I could say the same about the defense.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jason Peters: Most Important Eagles of 2013]]> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 16:02:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/170*120/104274513.jpg

Speculation abounds about the player who will quarterback Chip Kelly's offense in 2013. Free agency awaits, as does the draft. Michael Vick anticipates the unlikely $3 million payout his contract guarantees if he's on the Eagles roster on Feb. 6. Then there's Nick Foles, who surely hopes Kelly can adapt an offense to his skills.

A lot of questions, few answers. And, honestly, I'm not sure how much it matters, at least this year.

Long term, Kelly is going to need to find a dynamic, elite quarterback. That's a large part of winning in today's NFL. But short term, I have confidence that an offensive innovator can make do with any number of options, from a fresh rookie with legs to the immobile Foles.

Historically, Kelly hasn't asked his quarterback to carry the offensive load and he has never had an NFL-caliber QB. Oregon ran the ball 65 percent of the time last year, and the quarterback only averaged about eight carries per game. The QB isn't quite so important when you build your offense around playmakers -- and LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and company sure are weapons Kelly can focus on.

So if, despite the hype, the quarterback isn't the most important Eagle of 2013, who is? To me, the answer is simple: Jason Peters.

Peters, the 6-foot-4-inch, 340-pound offensive tackle whose 40-yard dash at the NFL combine was only .04 seconds slower than Jason Kelce's, is a player with obvious and immense talent. He's been to five Pro Bowls, including two with the Eagles since the team sent a first-round pick and change to the Buffalo Bills for him. It's no coincidence that McCoy had his breakout season in 2011, when Peters was absolutely destroying would-be tacklers.

Of course, in what was to be only the first in a long string of disappointments last year, Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon in the offseason and never played a down in 2012. The rest of the offensive line collapsed without him. Whether it was King Dunlap or Demetress Bell taking his place, left tackle became a major weakness. Evan Mathis held strong at guard, but Jason Kelce tore his ACL in the second game. Danny Watkins continued to be awful, and Todd Herremans regressed at right tackle before also falling prey to injury.

I know those injuries weren't correlated, but going forward the Eagles are going to need rebound performances from everyone -- especially Peters. While they may not need (at least at first) an elite quarterback, the team needs a solid offensive line. Last year, Oregon averaged just below 50 points per game. Kelly's offense was held under 35 points only once, when Stanford's defensive front dominated the Oregon offensive line and limited the Ducks to just two touchdowns. The playmakers need space to work. The quarterback needs time. That starts and ends with the offensive line -- and the line starts and ends with Peters.

There's a fair chance that the Eagles will pick an offensive tackle early in the draft, both for depth and long-term plans. But the transition would go a lot easier if Peters proves he can once again shoulder the load. On Tuesday he turned 31 years old. In football years, that's nearing the end of his prime, with or without a career-threatening injury. Tra Thomas held his own until age 34. Jon Runyan lasted until 35. If Peters can recover from his injury and last another three or four years, that would be huge. The team could build from an (aging) position of strength rather than scramble to find a replacement. A high draft pick could get some time to apprentice or step in at guard instead. And If Herremans needs to move back inside, the instability won't be devastating.

The Eagles defense, whether it transitions to the 3-4 or not, is going to take more time to rebuild. There are too many holes to execute any kind of quick turnaround on that side of the ball. But the offense, with a little bit of Kelly magic and an offensive line rebirth, could get a head start. And that depends on Peters.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Juan Castillo Might Get a Super Bowl Ring]]> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 11:30:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Juan+Castillo+Points.jpg

Former Eagles offensive line coach/defensive coordinator Juan Castillo could go from seemingly falling on the sword for Andy Reid to Super Bowl champ all within one season.

"The thing that hurts is that I let (Andy Reid) down, I let the organization down...I let the city of Philadelphia down," Castillo told NBC10’s Vai Sikahema soon after he was fired from his unsuccessful stint on the defensive side of the ball. "My job was to bring a championship and I didn't get it done."

Well, he is getting a quick second chance to make that happen and it will only take just a couple a weeks of work to make it happen.

Castillo joined the Ravens this week to serve as a two-week Super Bowl consultant and then running game consultant starting next season. His relationship with fellow former Eagles assistant, and current Baltimore head coach, John Harbaugh likely got Castillo the gig.

Per CSNPhilly:

Castillo and Harbaugh coached together from 1998-2007 as assistants with the Eagles before Harbaugh left to become the Ravens' head coach.

Making Castillo an official employee who could earn a Super Bowl ring (no word if he would get a ring if Baltimore beats San Francisco) doesn’t seem as shocking when you learn that he’s basically been hanging out with the Ravens for the past few months.

Per the Baltimore Sun:

His addition to the staff doesn't come as a surprise considering that Castillo has been a guest of Harbaugh's at Ravens home games at M&T Bank Stadium since being dismissed by the Eagles.

So there you have it, from an Eagles fan perspective you can root for your former coaches in Harbaugh and Castillo (and former player Sean Considine and Eagles legend, now Ravens RB coach, Wilbert Montgomery) with the Ravens or go all in for the greatest kicker in Eagles history David Akers, ex-Bird Chad Hall and brother of an Eagle Garrett Celek with the 49ers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Chip Kelly Honeymoon Begins]]> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 18:11:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chip-kelly-presser1.gif

There's a lot to love about Chip Kelly. But one simple thing I enjoy is his press conference demeanor. Like Andy Reid before him, Kelly isn't going to give out any useful information. While that may rankle the beat reporters, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the way Kelly always manages to say something interesting, even when he's not saying anything. Forget "We'll have to look at that." The new coach isn't afraid to poke fun at a reporter or turn a question on its head, and he's quick with the one-liners. His most recent 15 minute question and answer session on Monday was a tour de force. Here are some of the best lines:

Hypothetically, Chip, what are you looking for in your offensive coordinator?

"I don't mean to say it this way, and I'm not being gruff, but I'm not a hypothetical guy," Kelly said. "Hypothetically, I want a guy who can score a billion points in a game."

About those darn fast practices you ran at Oregon — can you replicate that in the NFL?

"You have to adjust to the numbers," Kelly said. "The Philadelphia Eagles are a football team, not a cross country team. If we go at the pace that we practiced at Oregon, we'd have a real good cross country team. But we're not playing at Valley Forge Park."

Alright, Chip, what about the defensive coordinator?

"I'll give you a new word -- Shutoutability. That would be the one, overriding quality," Kelly joked. "I'm not sure how we can define that, but that's a pretty good word. ... If you have Shutoutability, I need to talk to you."

* * *

We're currently in the dark about the Eagles defensive coordinator, which will be the second-most important coaching role on the team. All we have are a few names of likely assistants: DL coach Jerry Azzinaro seems to be following Kelly from Oregon. Other college coaches, namely Rick Minter and Bill McGovern, have also been rumored.

On the offensive side, most of the coaches seem unlikely to share Kelly's background in the hurry-up, read-option spread offense. He is supposedly keeping Duce Staley on for the running backs and moving Ted Williams to tight ends (odd if only because Williams has been a consistently great RBs coach since he started in 1997). The big rumor is that Pat Shurmur, former Reid assistant for a decade and most recently the Browns head coach, is coming back on board as offensive coordinator. 

Hiring Shurmur is a fascinating move that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense on the surface. Why bring in someone who has spent his career teaching the West Coast offense, rather than one who is more compatible with the head coach's schemes? Kelly painted an interesting picture on Monday:

“I think you need a lot of different personalities. I think if not, everything’s the same. And I think for you to flourish, there’s a lot of different things you need. You need really, really smart people. I think you need people that are dedicated. And sometimes, you need people that are just a little bit off too, so it’s a rare combination. But I don’t want everybody to be the same because I don’t think we’d grow as a group. I think we need to challenge each other.”

Kelly is still going to mastermind the offense and call the plays, one assumes. The Eagles aren't going to retain the same offensive system that they've run for years. But as long as they can coexist, adding a completely different perspective could be quite positive. Kelly is a run-first coach who doesn't have experience attacking NFL defenses. Adding a veteran voice who can tutor quarterbacks and help him out in the passing game might help smooth out that transition. Kelly also warned against tying people to one scheme or another. Shurmur's only 47, and he might get another shot as a head coach down the road. A partnership with Kelly (i.e. learning as well as teaching) is potentially beneficial to him as well.

* * *

Do we want a GM who spurns Tommy Lawlor at the Senior Bowl? I think not:

So I’m standing there watching the OL drills and trying to find us a tackle or guard to draft.  Howie walks over and stands kind of in front of me.  There is a pecking order where coaches, GMs, and senior scouts can stand where they want.  The rest of us deal with it.  Howie wasn’t rude, just wanted to be as close to the drill as possible.  Anyway…I figure I’ll just play it cool and watch the drill.  Howie looks around between reps.  He glances at me, since I’m wearing an Eagles shirt.  I’m still locked into the players.  I can feel he’s staring at me so I make eye contact.  He’s confused because he sees the shirt, but knows I’m not part of his staff and he’s never seen me at the NovaCare.  I mention I write for the team’s website, shake his hand, and mention what a great day it is (safe, general comment).  Howie just walked away, probably because he didn’t want me seeing who/what he was watching.  Would have been nice to have more than a 10-second conversation, but I got the vibe that forcing the issue would have been a bad idea so I let him be.


Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Philly, Get Ready for Kelly Green!]]> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 16:14:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chipkelly11p01162013.jpg First impressions from the new coach and the Eagles fans who came out to greet Chip Kelly.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Chip Kelly: I Hope Fans Don't Boo Me]]> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 16:15:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/kellysanta01162013.jpg New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly arrives in Philly, joking about our rabid fan base and the infamous Santa episode.
How the Chip Kelly Deal Went Down ]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly: I Just Want to Win]]> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 16:51:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/kellygladtobehere.jpg New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly arrives in Philadelphia tonight saying he just wants to win.
How the Chip Kelly Deal Went Down ]]>
<![CDATA[The Chip Kelly Deal]]> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 16:51:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chip+kelly+oregon+01162013.jpg The Eagles hire Chip Kelly as their new head coach. NBC10's John Clark reports on how the deal went down.
Birds' Nest: A Place for Everything Eagles ]]>
<![CDATA[Chip Kelly to Coach Philadelphia Eagles ]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 23:51:15 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/136419104-1.jpg

Oregon coach Chip Kelly will be the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Both NFL.com and ESPN reported that Kelly was hired. The team itself later confirmed that Kelly was hired on their website.

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Kelly, 49, had been with the University of Oregon since 2007 and was head coach of the team for the last four years. During his time with the Ducks, Kelly complied a 46-7 (.868) record.

Before joining the University of Oregon, Kelly was the defensive coordinator of New Hampshire, his alma mater, from 1999-2006. He also served as the school's offensive line coach from 1997 to 1998 and its running backs coach from 1994 to 1996.

Kelly met with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, team president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman early during the team's head coach search in Arizona. He met with the team for almost nine hours after the Fiesta Bowl.

“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” said Lurie. “He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team.”

The Philadelphia Eagles stated the following about Kelly in an official press release: 

 Over the years, Kelly has developed an aggressive offensive strategy and system. Kelly is one of the most progressive thinkers in football today. A stronger leader with an innovative football mind was at the top of Lurie’s list when he outlined the characteristics he was seeking in a coach when he launched the search.
Under Kelly in 2012, Oregon averaged nearly 50 points per game (49.6) and his four-year scoring average with the Ducks was a whopping 44.7 points per contest.
His first coaching job was with Columbia University where he was the outside linebackers coach and the strong safeties coach in 1991. In 1993, he was the defensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins University.
Kelly graduated from New Hampshire with a BS in Physical Education in 1990.
The Eagles will introduce the new head coach to its fans as soon as arrangements can be made.

This will be Kelly's first head coaching job in the NFL.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gus Lands in Philly, Will Eagles Hire Him?]]> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 20:10:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Gus_Bradley_Airport_11513.jpg Seahawks defensive coordinator arrived in Philadelphia Tuesday for his second interview with the Eagles, NBC10's Vai Sikahema reports that he is set to meet Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles brass.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Seahawk Brock Praises Potential Eagles Coach]]> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 00:11:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Gus+Bradley+Headset+Hawks.jpg Seahwaks DC Gus Bradley is due to interview with the Eagles again on Tuesday. Former Seahawk, and Philly-native, Raheem Brock tell NBC10's John Clark and 97.5 The Fanatic's Mike Missanelli that he has nothing but praise for his former coach.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Updates on Eagles Coaching Search]]> Fri, 11 Jan 2013 07:11:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/136419104-1.jpg

Playoff football was upstaged this week in Philadelphia as the Eagles coaching search stretched on.

While the Packers took care of Joe Webb (remember him?) and RGIII suffered a horrific and entirely foreseeable injury, all eyes in Eagles-land were looking toward Chip Kelly.

Kelly flirted with three teams, taking interviews with the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and the Eagles. Although the Browns have tried to distance themselves in recent reports, they clearly were all in on Kelly. Ex-Eagles President Joe Banner made a full-court press to get him for Cleveland and came up short. And the Birds, while less committed to Kelly, certainly had him high on their list. They conducted a nine-hour lunch with Kelly on Saturday, which is easily the most absurd job interview description I've ever heard.

Ultimately, I think it's sad for the NFL that we won't have Kelly coaching in 2013. There's far too much talk about whether or not his offense could work at the professional level, instead of embracing the excitement of something new. Whether Kelly will ever coach in the NFL is now a serious question. He had his pick between three teams in different situations and chose to remain in Oregon instead. That's fine. There's a lot about the school that beats coming to Philly, especially in terms of control and lifestyle. There's no reason to draw broad conclusions about the Eagles job, as some have done, just because Kelly turned them down. I wish him all the best and hope that someday he finds a situation that feels comfortable. Those doors will always be open.

In other news, the Bills actually hired someone, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. To me, he was a nice backup option, but nothing more. Like Steve Sarkisian, Marrone has turned around a school with awful recent history and made them respectable. He finished his four seasons at Syracuse with a 25-25 record, a major improvement from their 10-37 record under previous coach Greg Robinson. Still, the team plays in an increasingly makeshift Big East and his fourth season -- an 8-5 bowl-winning one -- wasn't so impressive. Marrone was offensive coordinator under Sean Payton with the Saints for three years prior, but how much of that offense was set by Payton? Fine hire, but I'm not sad at all that the Eagles didn't get a chance to interview him.

The Eagles are scheduling interviews with other people right now. Bruce Arians, the Colts offensive coordinator, missed that team's first round playoff loss because he was admitted to the hospital with nausea and headaches. Hopefully all is well with him, but I'm not in love with his candidacy either. As someone who started coaching football in the late 1970s, Arians is no young man (a decade older than Marty Mornhinweg). He has bounced around over the last decade as offensive coordinator in the NFL, but only started to get serious head coaching consideration this year when he filled in admirably for Chuck Pagano. Arians is riding high based on that goodwill, but the Colts were one of the worst playoff teams in recent memory. When you step back and dispassionately assess the situation, there's nothing that stands out as particularly promising about him..

Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, on the other hand, is a new name that sounds much more promising. The skinny on Bradley is simple. First, look at Sunday's game. After allowing 14 points early to the dangerous Redskins on Sunday, his innovative hybrid defense tightened up and didn't allow another point. No wonder the Seahawks are ranked fourth in the NFL in defensive DVOA. Second, read what Monte Kiffin had to say about Bradley when he recommended him to then-Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr. back in 2009:

"Monte says, 'J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He's an A-plus. He's a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him,' " Mora recalled. "He said, 'J.L., this guy is special. You have to bring him in. You have to talk to him.' "

Finally, watch Bradley lay into his defense on the sideline. Wouldn't it be fun to have a coach with that much fire on the sidelines in Philly? The 46 year-old only arrived in the NFL in 2006 after spending 15 years in the FCS college ranks (i.e. Division I-AA), but everyone praises him. You can read much more about Bradley here and here and here. As long as he can hire an experienced offensive staff, there's much to like about his candidacy.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Case for Lovie Smith or Another Retread Coach]]> Thu, 10 Jan 2013 14:02:04 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/158819324.jpg

Sometimes the new shiny thing is the most attractive option. Sometimes, it just seems that way.

In the Eagles head coach search, most people are firmly against hiring a retread coach, someone who's been around the block. Sure, there are Jon Gruden supporters and Bill Cowher supporters, but most people would rather get Chip Kelly or Mike McCoy or some other new name. I think the Eagles probably agree with this philosophy. They've been strongly linked to college coaches and other coordinators, but Mike Nolan was the only retread they've interviewed before today.

Nolan is a poor candidate, if you use history as any judge. Bill Belichick is the only example of a recently hired coach who went on to have great success at his second job after posting a losing record in his first. Trying to find the one diamond in the rough is a losing proposition.

But that doesn't mean that all second-chance coaches are bad. Thirty-two have been hired since 1999 (not including KC's hiring of Andy Reid today). Many of those hires were predicated on the idea that the coach learned something from their previous failure. But I wanted to look at only the ones who earned their second shot with solid performance the first time around. I isolated 16 who had winning records and won at least one playoff game at their previous job. That list looks much more promising.

Here's how they did (or are doing) in their second chance:

Let me break it down by color. Five coaches marked in blue are clear success stories. Dungy, Coughlin, and Gruden all won Super Bowls with their second team. Holmgren came close. I suppose Parcells in Dallas is more debatable, but he reversed three straight 5-11 seasons, posted a winning record, and formed the foundation of the reasonably successful Wade Phillips era. Then you have the four green coaches, who are current and relatively new hires. Three of the four -- Carroll, Shanahan, and Fox -- are currently in the playoffs and look to have bright futures. Too early to tell with Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.

I marked another three coaches in orange as special cases. Gibbs and Shell each came back to coaching after over a decade sitting on the couch. Hiring coaches who have been away from the game for that long is unlikely to ever work, and I doubt the Eagles are interested in any such candidates. Schottenheimer is also in this special category because Dan Snyder unwisely fired him after a single season in Washington. He won 8 of his last 11 games that year, and went on immediately to the Chargers, where he posted a solid .588 winning percentage over five seasons (although no playoff victories).

That leaves only four hires, marked in red, who really turned out poorly: Green, Seifert, Mariucci, and Mora Jr. Any coach could end up just as bad. But I look at the success rate, including three Super Bowl-winning coaches and three current up-and-comers and wonder if the Eagles could find a similarly successful retread candidate. If they avoided the Nolans of the world in favor of coaches with a winning background, they might have a greater chance of a favorable outcome. You would be looking at people who have already proven they can run an organization, win games, and get to the playoffs — even if they may not have reached the promised land yet.

Who might that be? Well, Jon Gruden is an obvious example. He did this once alread, and is widely hailed as one of the smartest football minds around. Lovie Smith is another potential candidate. He's gotten little interest before Thursday's interview with the Eagles, which is surprising considering he had only three losing seasons in nine years in Chicago and has built top defenses everywhere he's been.

Both have weaknesses as candidates, but as cool as it would be to snag a hotshot like Kelly, history suggests a retread like one of them could be just what the Eagles need.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reid: I Still Have a Home in Philly]]> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 00:56:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Reid-and-Vai.jpg

Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid spoke exclusively with NBC10's Vai Sikahema Monday afternoon. The interview followed an earlier press conference in which the Chiefs formally introduced Reid as their new head coach.

During the interview, Reid talked about the Eagles' struggles towards the end of his 14-year tenure.

"Sometimes when you're there a long time things get out of wack," said Reid. "That was my responsibility. Nobody else's. It was important that we all pulled together in the situation. But there was a lot of change. You had an old football team that ended up being a new football team. We were rebuilt. When you lose your players there's no time to take a step back and move forward. You don't have that grace period to get those young guys in and lift them up."

Reid also had advice for the team and the fans as they continue on with a new coach. 

"So now they have that opportunity," said Reid. "For this next guy coming in they need to give him that. The city of Philadelphia should give him that. Give him a couple years to build that thing and get it back ferocious again."

Vai also asked Reid about recent criticisms from his former players Jeremiah Trotter and Hugh Douglas.

"I completely understand," said Reid. "Those are my guys. I was honest with them and they're honest back. Whatever they say, that's what they say. I know what change does. There are going to be things said. There are going to be things said even in years going down here. I got it and I understand."

After the interview, Reid addressed the rest of the Philadelphia media during a conference call. During the call, Reid continued to take the high road, having nothing but positive things to say about the Eagles, the fans and Philadelphia.

“The fan base is great,” said Reid. “They care about people. The organization is great.”

When asked why it took so long for him to address the Philadelphia media since he was hired as the Chiefs head coach, Reid claimed that he felt like he needed to step back and do it at what he felt was the right time.

“It’s important that the fans know how much I love Philadelphia,” said Reid. “I still have a home in Philadelphia. I wish nothing but the best for the city.”

NBC10 asked Reid if he felt like he was treated fairly by the Eagles fan base. 

“The fans care,” replied Reid. “All that mattered to me was that they cared. They were real. If we stunk, they told us we stunk. If we were good they told us we were good. That’s all you can ask for as a football coach.”

While Reid praised the Eagles and the fan base, Reid also agreed that a change was necessary not only for himself but for the Eagles organization.

“I look at the big picture of things,” said Reid. “Sometimes change is a good thing.” 

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Reid: I'm Very Excited to Be a Kansas City Chief]]> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 18:02:42 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Andy-Reid-Chiefs-Head-Coach.jpg

Andy Reid held a press conference on Monday but not as the Eagles head coach. Instead he addressed the media for the first time as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Reid was officially named head coach of the Chiefs last Friday. He agreed to a five-year deal which gives him authority over football decisions, just as he had in Philadelphia.

During the press conference, Reid told the media he was "excited to be a Kansas City Chief." He also had kind words for Philadelphia.

“I’ve had nothing but good things and good experiences in Philadelphia,” said Reid. “I’ve come from a great fan base in Philly. But there’s nothing like the sea of red.”

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Reid Officially Named Head Coach of Chiefs]]> Sat, 05 Jan 2013 19:00:16 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/ANDY+REID+IN+KANSAS.jpg

The Andy Reid sweepstakes ended Friday as the former Eagles head coach landed in the land of barbecue, Kansas City, to coach the Chiefs.

Reid has agreed to a five-year deal which gives him authority over football decisions, just as he had in Philadelphia.

After rumors of the Chargers and Cardinals being interested in Reid, and the Cardinals seeming almost certain to sign Reid, Big Red instead signed with the Chiefs.

Kansas City was an NFL-worst 2-14 this season but they still offer the former Eagles coach plenty.

  • With that terrible record comes to top pick in April’s NFL Draft.
  • Despite their record, the team had five Pro Bowlers including 1,500-yard rusher Jamaal Charles.
  • The Chiefs play in a division with two bad teams (Chargers & Raiders) and a Broncos team led by an aging Peyton Manning.
  • They have a strong fan base and tradition

For those reasons, The Chiefs made sense for Reid. Add in the fact that the team canned General Manager Scott Pioli opening up that position for former Reid crony Tom Heckert, and it’s similarly a no-brainer.

It took Reid just two seasons to get the Birds from a three-win team to the playoffs in Philly. Can he do the same in Kansas City?

And in case you miss big Red already, he will be back since the Chiefs are slated to play at Lincoln Financial Field next season.

<![CDATA[Staying or Going: Eagles Quarterbacks]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2013 13:21:03 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Andy+Reid+2009+Vick+Sideline.jpg

Even if the six-year, $100 million contract Michael Vick signed just before the 2011 season was more like five years for $80 million the implication was the same: Andy Reid planned to build the team around Vick for the foreseeable future.

That didn't happen, of course. The Eagles were 8-8 in 2011 and managed just half as many wins in 2012. Predictably,Reid was fired this week and now the front office -- and the new head coach, whomever he is -- will have to decide Vick's fate, along with the other quarterbacks on the roster. We'll preview those decisions below.

Michael Vick
The biggest obstacle to Vick remaining in Philly is the aforementioned contract. He'll almost certainly have to restructure it to return -- and that's assuming that the new coach thinks Vick is worth keeping around. Someone like Chip Kelly, who runs an unconventional, up-tempo offense at Oregon, might be able to get the most out of Vick. The same holds for 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who's had success with Andrew Luck (while at Stanford), Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. Otherwise, Vick could be taking his talents elsewhere (like, say, Kansas City should Reid get the job there, as has been widely reported).

Verdict: Gone

Nick Foles
The Foles bandwagon gained steam in the preseason when he subbed for an injured Vick and looked great against vanilla defenses and second- and third-teamers. Foles got his first regular-season start in Week 11, after Vick was sidelined with a concussion and, well, he looked a lot like a rookie struggling to learn the nuances of what it means to be an NFL quarterback. There were ups and downs and as Reid noted often, consistency was Foles' biggest issue. But the rookie third-rounder also showed glimpses of franchise-quarterback potential. Whether that translates into a bona fide franchise quarterback is another matter.

"I think you want to be careful," general manager Howie Roseman said recently. "I go back to the analogy that I use about a starting pitcher in baseball. They go through the batting order one time, or they go through lineups of the teams in their division one time and maybe they do really well before there is a book on them.

"The things that we saw from him were promising," Roseman continued. "He's smart. He's obviously big and he's got a good arm. He makes good decisions. He can throw on the move.  He's big enough to avoid pass rushers and be able to throw them off him. At the same (time), he knows there are things he has to work on and get better.

"With players, we know that rookies take jumps from their first year to their second year. We're looking forward to seeing that from Nick."

It's pretty clear that Foles will return in 2013. The only question is whether he'll be the No. 1 quarterback heading into training camp or if someone like Kelly would be partial to Vick.

Verdict: Staying

Trent Edwards
It was something of surprise that journeyman Edwards beat out Reid favorite Mike Kafka but he deserved the roster spot based on his performance in training camp and preseason. He's also good in the locker room, which never hurts. Whether Edwards stays will be largely dependent -- like most things -- on the new coach and his offensive philosophy. All things being equal, the Eagles could do worse than Edwards as their No. 3 quarterback, no matter what offense they're running.

Verdict: Staying

Stay or Go: Special Teamers

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Should They Stay or Go: Eagles Special Teamers]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 14:04:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Alex+Henery+Made+FG.jpg

With the 2012 debacle behind us and with Andy Reid out of the nest, it’s not too early to start predicting who else will be told to fly the coop.

Let’s start by looking at the Eagles specialists.


Kicker Alex Henery:
The second-year kicker made 27 of 31 kicks (87.1) percent and even though fans might remember him for the terrible shank he had in Week 17 against the Giants, the Eagles brass will instead focus on his consistency over the course of two years and the fact that good kickers are hard to find.

Special Teams Beast/Safety Colt Anderson:
Anderson raised some eyebrows as a safety at the end of the season but plenty of fans already knew his name for his tough nosed play on kick and punt coverage. Expect him to be back on coverage next season even if he spends more time playing defense than special teams.


Longsnapper Jon Dorenbos:
He has never missed a game since joining the Birds in 2007, seemingly has never had a bad hike of the ball and even made a Pro Bowl in 2009. So, how could he possibly not be back, right?

Well, Dorenbos is an unrestricted free agent and could see plenty of interest from other teams. But, the Eagles need to bring him back because the only time you ever think about him is when you see his magic act off the field because there are no surprises with him on the field.


Punter Mat McBriar:
The Eagles booted Chas Henry after an underwhelming rookie campaign and only a handful of games in this season in favor of two-time Pro Bowler McBriar. The choice appeared to be the wrong one as the ex-Cowboy posted an NFL-worst 36.5 net and 14.5 percent touch-back rate. He also was dead last in the NFL with only 13 punts inside the 20.

There is no conceivable way the Eagles can make sense of bringing back McBriar.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Breaking Down the Eagles' Coaching Candidates]]> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:47:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/136419104-1.jpg

Andy Reid was officially fired Monday after weeks and months of speculation that this would be his 14th and final year in Philadelphia. He probably won't be out of work long but now the Eagles begin the search for his replacement.

Whomever succeeds Reid will have plenty to work with; rookie Nick Foles could be the team's franchise quarterback, and rookie backfield mate Bryce Brown might be an explosive complement to LeSean McCoy. Then there's DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek to go along with an offensive line that should be healthy for the first time since 2011.

In the meantime, here's a quick look at some possible (and not so possible) candidates.

Bill O'Brien, Penn State head coach, former Patriots offensive coordinator: O'Brien impressed NFL teams last offseason but he'll be in higher demand this time around after the season he put together in Happy Valley.
Odds: 7 to 1

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football color commentator, former Raiders and Buccaneers head coach and Eagles offensive coordinator:
Gruden's name pops up every time there's a job opening. In theory, the hire makes sense but the reality is that it's probably not happening.
Odds: 1 billion to 1

Mike McCoy, Broncos offensive coordinator: It's one thing to coach a future Hall of Famer like Peyton Manning but McCoy fashioned an offense around Tim Tebow and Denver won the division. That's impressive.
Odds: 10 to 1

Chip Kelly, Oregon head coach. Kelly apparently wants a big role in personnel decisions, something owner Jeffrey Lurie isn't likely to go for after 14 years with Reid.
Odds: 100 to 1 if he wants final personnel say, 2 to 1 if he doesn't

Greg Roman, 49ers offensive coordinator: As Birds' Nest's Brian Soloman noted last week, "The results speak for themselves -- in college or the pros, with (Andrew) Luck, (Alex) Smith or (Colin) Kaepernick. Whether the Eagles end up developing Foles or another young quarterback, Roman's ability to adapt his scheme and add new wrinkles would be helpful."
Odds: 8 to 1

Bruce Arians, Colts offensive coordinator: The man knows quarterbacks. He was Peyton Manning's first QB coach in Indy back in 1998 and was the offensive coordinator when the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger went to the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2010. Oh, and he had the same role with the Colts and Andrew Luck in 2012 on a team that went from two wins a year ago to 11-5 this time around.
Odds: 50 to 1

Pete Carmichael, Saints offensive coordinator: He's been impressive with Drew Brees as his quarterback, but who wouldn't?
Odds: 50 to 1

Steve Spagnuolo, Saints defensive coordinator and former Eagles assistant: If this were 2007, Spags would be in demand. But he was a failure as the Rams' head coach and now anonymous Saints players are calling him out after one year as New Orleans' defensive coordinator.
Odds: 2 billion to 1

Dirk Koetter, Falcons offensive coordinator: Atlanta signed Koetter to a contract on Wednesday but that doesn't mean he's not interested in being a head coach. If nothing else, it just goes to show: having a franchise quarterback makes it a lot easier to coach. A year ago, Koetter was let go by the Jags. Now he looks pretty good after working with Matt Ryan.
Odds: 25 to 1

Ray Horton, Cardinals defensive coordinator: Horton is the only defensive coach on this list and that should tell you how well respected he is as possible head coach.
Odds: 50 to 1

Take your pick: Marty Mornhinweg, Juan Castillo, Bobby April: Better chance Michael Vick returns to Philly and leads the Eagles to a 16-0 record while throwing passes right-handed than any of these Reid assistants landing the job.
Odds: off

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Coaching Search: Lurie vs. Banner]]> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 09:45:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Jeff+Lurie+Waves.jpg

Last June, Joe Banner left the Eagles after 18 years as Jeff Lurie's trusted confident and shadow CEO. We were told the parting was amicable, that Banner had simply departed to pursue other interests, like buying a NFL team himself. While he did end up part of an ownership group in Cleveland, Banner's exit was much more complicated than it appeared in the press releases. There were rumors of a power struggle between Banner and Andy Reid. Meanwhile, Banner's former protege Howie Roseman was gaining his own brand of influence within the front office — something Lurie confirmed on Monday.

Whatever was said at the time, no love was lost between Banner and the Eagles executives who stayed. He sniped at the team from afar, blaming both Roseman and Reid for the decline in a petulant display of anonymous mudslinging. His words clearly got under Reid's skin toward the end (he purposely snubbed Banner's mouthpiece at an after-practice press conference). And I would be surprised if Lurie wasn't annoyed as well. Whatever else they were, Lurie and Banner were friends first. I wonder if they sent each other holiday cards this year.

Complicating matters further, Lurie has essentially assumed Banner's job within the Eagles organization. Banner used to run the entire organization on a day-to-day basis, overseeing everything from stadium operations to salary cap management. Now Lurie has injected himself more into the process. On the football side, without his (former?) friend, Lurie is the direct report for both Roseman and the head coach. At the same time, Banner is trying to replicate his Philly model in Cleveland, where he can execute complete control.

All of this is just inside baseball stuff until you get to the key issue of the day: hiring a new head coach. Banner and Lurie collaborated to pick Andy Reid. You can assume that over the years they discussed coaching a lot, including qualities that make the best NFL coaches, and certainly who those candidates might be. Now they're both looking for a coach at the same time, and reportedly (and unsurprisingly) are looking at the same guys.

Apparently Chip Kelly and Bill O'Brien both rank at or near the top for both organizations, and the Eagles and Browns seem ready to fight it out. Where friendship once stood, it's hard to see anything but personal rivalry, and perhaps even vengeance on the horizon. If I were advising Lurie I would tell him to be sure to approach this process in a logical, organized, and emotion-free way. Rushing to hire one of these coaches simply to beat the other guy is a foolhardy way of conducting business.

Let's hope these men — or at least Lurie — have more sense than that.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Searching for Clues in Jeffrey Lurie's Press Conference]]> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 20:16:58 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/JeffLurieTrackRecord_722x406_2183165467.jpg

Maybe it's because Jeff Lurie so rarely speaks to the media, but he always surprises me with his eloquence and thoughtfulness behind the podium. Last year, Lurie expressed anger and disappointment about the 2011 results, but gave Reid one more chance to turn things around. It turned out to be the wrong decision, one that made Monday's announcement fait accompli. 

There was a lot to digest in his remarks about firing long time coach Andy Reid and the future direction of the Eagles franchise. Let's get to it.

"His work ethic was incredible and his ability to work with others was incredible. He had the love and respect of every individual in this organization. And I don't say that lightly because I think if you were to interview owners and other franchise operations around the league, not everybody could say that. This man is amazing to work with, smart and dedicated himself, and the record will speak for itself. History will focus on exactly what he's been able to accomplish and what the team has been able to accomplish. I look forward to the day we all welcome him back and introduce him as  a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame, because that's inevitable."

Lurie went out of his way to praise Reid for all that he's accomplished, as well as simply who he is as a person. He's right, most firings in the NFL aren't nearly as respectful as this one. You can't say the Eagles organization failed to do right by their all-time winningest coach.

I think in life, whenever you have either a downturn or a problem or something that you've got to face (like a) challenge, it should, if you are healthy about it, make you stronger. That's exactly what's going to happen here. We're used to winning and we're used to winning big. It's rare that we're not in the playoffs or playing in the (conference) championship game, and that's what we've got to return to.

Like other owners, Lurie isn't content with mediocrity. It's why so many coaches and general managers were fired on Monday. But I think this was also the first salvo in Lurie courting the next coach. Arizona, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Carolina, Kansas City, and (most importantly) Cleveland can't claim a winning tradition. Whether that really matters may be debatable, but Lurie is going to milk it for all it's worth.

"I think, as you know, I stood up here last year and went through some of the arguments for making a change, and decided not to. One of the key arguments, for me, for not making a change at the end of last year was that every time our team under Andy Reid was 8-8 or less, and it wasn't very often, but every single time after that the next season we were a double-digit playoff team. (We were a) double-digit and playoff team (or) advancing to the NFC Championship."

Lurie said he doesn't regret keeping Reid on for another year, but I think he learned a valuable lesson. Hope is not a viable managerial strategy. You can't assume that things are going to turn around just because they have in the past. Make decisions for the future.

He was very excited about the future of this team and this franchise. He wanted to stay. We spent some time on Friday going over exactly what his plans would be for the team, knowing that there was a very good chance that he was going to be let go.

When asked directly, Lurie denied that Reid was informed before Monday that he would be fired. But they clearly had an interesting end-of-season conversation. What I wouldn't have given to be a fly on the wall of that conference room...

"I think if you had to point to anything, it's when you had as much success as we had and are so close to winning a Super Bowl, (that) at some stage you have an opportunity to think that the next move, even if it's not consistent with all of your previous moves, will be the one that gives you the chance to win the Lombardi Trophy. I think that in the last couple years we've done things that have not been as consistent. They've been more scattered in terms of decision making. You notice it with any organization that has had a lot of success that you will start to reach thinking, ‘That's the thing that's going to (get us over the top), that's the player, that's the method, that's the mechanism, that's the coach, that's the thing that is going to put us over the top'... So I think we lost some of the exact nature of the method that we've all shared that created the success, which was discipline, strategic thinking, and don't do necessarily what is popular but do what's right."

This was the money quote. Lurie knows that Reid wasn't the same coach who lorded over the Linc a decade ago. Instead of drafting for the long term, letting veterans walk before they slowed down, this front office has been reaching in the draft, grabbing free agents willy-nilly, and re-signing veterans to long term extensions. It seems like you're just a step away from getting back to the pinnacle, but really you're going in the wrong direction.

"While you're trying to decide what you're going to do with your coach, at least the way I operate, is doing a lot of research over the past month or so. That is done meticulously and in great detail. We do have a very, very defined list of candidates. We hope to be able to meet with some of them as soon as possible. I think it's better to find the right leader than it is to make the fastest decision."

Lurie's quote here, combined with the news that he's going to interview three (!) candidates from the Atlanta Falcons this week, leads me to believe that he's got a long list of people he wants to talk to before he makes his decision. Sometimes teams interview two or three coaches as a formality before picking the one they wanted all along. Doesn't sound like that's the route Lurie's headed.

"I keep voluminous notes on talent evaluation on not just who we draft, but who is valued in each draft by each person that is in the organization that's working here. I came to the conclusion that the person that was providing by far the best talent evaluation in the building was Howie Roseman. I decided to streamline the whole decision-making process for the 2012 draft and offseason and that's the first draft and offseason I hold Howie completely accountable for. The mistakes that were made in the 2011 draft have little or nothing to do with Howie's evaluations and I think it was important for me to own up to the mistakes that were made and understand where they were coming from and it was awfully clear."

First of all, that's smart ownership. Lurie isn't out front making personnel decisions. But he sure is keeping track of who makes those moves. Accountability is vital. It's the conclusion from those notes that is more surprising, though. Lurie essentially said that Reid and Joe Banner were the ones making poor decisions over the last few years, and that Roseman was consistently right behind the scenes. He absolved his GM of all responsibility for the abysmal 2010-2011 drafts, as well as the 2011 free agent binge (which we were told at the time was all Roseman), while crediting him for the great early returns from 2012's biggest moves. I don't know if such faith is deserved, but it looks like Roseman will be the key player in the front office going forward.

"But my goal is to have the coach and the general manager work hand-in-hand and work collaboratively and work in a very, very terrific way together. But there's no question in my mind the head coach will report directly to me as every head coach has and that's important. It's important in terms of attracting the right coach, it's important in terms of the autonomy that coach will have and it also fosters an owner-coach relationship that I think benefits a football team in many, many ways. That shared responsibility with the coach and the ultimate support for a coach when it's coming directly from the owner and you build an organization that is supportive and give the coach all the resources possible and have the G.M. collaborate very, very moment-to-moment and day-to-day with that coach, that's a great support system and that's what we have here."

This is going to be an important question in attracting the right coach. Many candidates will insist on complete control. But, paired with his earlier praise of Roseman, Lurie doesn't seem willing to give it over. He described having the GM and coach work together with each reporting directly to the owner. Roseman won at least partial control in the last year, and that won't be relinquished, a fact which could eliminate a few of the most prominent candidates.

"Good question. I think the most important thing is to find the right leader. I'm not one who wants to buy schemes, wants to buy approaches that are necessarily finite. What you've got to find is somebody who is strategic. Somebody who is a strong leader. Somebody who is very comfortable in his own skin. That, to me, is probably one of the one or two top traits because players today see right through if you're not. If you're a salesman coach, that's not going to work. Somebody who is completely comfortable in his role and in who they are as a person, that's the most important thing. But there's a lot of other characteristics that go into it. How well does the person hire? Is he going to surround himself with strong coordinators and good assistant coaches? ... I'm looking for someone that's innovative. Somebody that is not afraid to take risks. Somebody that looks (at) and studies the league and studies the college world and decides what the best inefficiencies are on offense and defense and special teams and can execute it with their coaches so that you take advantage of trends and take advantage of, again, inefficiencies in terms of where the game is at and understand where it's going. So, a student of the game who is obsessed and who absolutely and, on his own, is completely driven to be the best, that's what you're looking for."

Innovative leader, not scheme champion. Sounds more like Bill O'Brien than Chip Kelly to me.

"I think to be really successful in this league, you've got to be able to have the freedom to make short-term plans, mid-term plans and long-term plans and if you feel like you're under the gun where you're going to be given two years and that's it or this year has to be absolutely the panacea to every problem you have, you're not going to get the best coaching."

So, what you're saying is that it might not have been such a good idea to give Reid a public ultimatum for 2012? Oops.

"I think the new coach will have a big factor in evaluating Nick. Nick is obviously very promising. I think when you bring in a new coaching staff, you have the opportunity to really get to know him and evaluate him. He has only played six games behind an offensive line that's been really battered. I think they're going to have a great opportunity. I know Andy was very excited about Nick and that's an understatement."

Interesting that Lurie describes Reid's excitement about Foles but not Roseman's. Obviously there's some organizational momentum behind the young QB, but we'll see what the next head coach says.

"I feel the pain. I feel the pain so much that I sometimes wonder, it's harder for me to lose than it is to win a game. I still play over, just to give you a feel for it, I will go back and go through a red zone series in New Orleans in a playoff game and I can't get it out of my mind. It could be a pass that is underthrown in a playoff game here against Green Bay a few years ago, or an early pass in the Super Bowl with a guy open that got intercepted. Things like that. I don't get it out of my mind. When we have a season like this year, it's embarrassing to me and it's personally crushing. Really, it's terrible."

Whatever else you want to say about Lurie, this team is his entire life. Let's all hope he makes the right decisions going forward.

<![CDATA[Turning Point: The Eagles' First Series]]> Mon, 31 Dec 2012 00:12:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/andy+reid+last+game+12302012.jpg

Each week we'll take a look at the decisive play that proved to be the difference between winning and losing.

And so it ends, fittingly, with a 42-7 blowout at the hands of the division rival Giants. It's probably better this way; if the score had been reversed we'd probably give some thought -- even if momentarily -- to the idea of bringing Reid back. Instead, the coach who arrived in Philly in 1999 will be on some other sideline in 2013 and the Eagles will spend the ensuing weeks and months answering a lot of tough questions.

The finale, which also likely included Michael Vick's last game in Philly, felt like a meaningless Week 17 get-together. The Eagles got things started with an onside kick, portending good things for a team in desperate need of some positive news. Of course, Vick threw an interception five plays later and that, as they say, was that. New York scored four plays after that and never looked back.

In a theme that has been familiar to Eagles fans for most of his tenure, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was routinely targeted and abused Sunday. He said last week that he'd like to return to Philly but he'll almost certainly need to take a pay cut. More generally, the Eagles' defense looked about as porous as it had all year, and that's saying something for a group that played a non-trivial role in 12 losses, including a nine-game losing streak.

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 107 yards on just 16 carries. And quarterback Eli Manning, who struggled with consistency for most of the year, completed just 13 passes, but five (FIVE!) went for touchdowns. The lowlight of the afternoon had to be the fourth-quarter touchdown celebration that came courtesy of Giants fullback Henry Hynoski. Nothing screams "your season is officially over" quite like that.

Reid told reporters after the game that "I haven't met with Jeffrey (Lurie)" about the future, but added, "Either way, I understand. If I'm here again, I'll love every minute of it. If I'm not, I'll understand that too."

Twitter was rife with reports that Reid had been fired although official word isn't expected until Monday. Whenever the word is delivered, it won't be a surprise. Not to Reid, not to the players, and certainly not to the fans and media.

There is plenty to look forward to with the new regime, from the development quarterback Nick Foles and running back Bryce Brown, to the big-play skills of LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and DeSean Jackson, not to mention a completely healthy offensive line for the first time since 2011. There are still issues to work out on the defensive side of the ball, but there are playmakers there, too. Now it's just a matter of finding the right coach to get the most out of a group that has underachieved for two years now.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles, Reid Will Finish Winners: "Experts"]]> Sun, 30 Dec 2012 11:43:42 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Andy+Reid+Tunnel.jpg

The Eagles season mercifully comes to an end this weekend, so will our football-picking “experts” go out winners or losers?

Looks like the Eagles, and Mike Vick and Andy Reid in likely their final game with the Birds, will need to beat the Giants to make us winners in Week 17.

Three out of five of our “experts” have the Birds winning another close game against the Giants.

First let’s hear from a couple of guys who don’t think the Birds will win at the Meadowlands.

“At this time of the year, it’s all about who needs to win the most,” said sports producer Dean. “The Giants have to win. The Birds crash in burn in season finale, Giants 24-Eagles 13.”

“I admit it, I’m off the Eagles' bandwagon,” said Birds' Nest blogger Ryan Wilson. “I want to be on it for sentimental reasons, and this team could beat a just-as-hapless Giants team Sunday, we just don't think they will. New York, 20-17.”

Sales guys Corey said sentimentality could be just the reason the Eagles will win.

“I believe the Eagles will try to win one for the Gipper on Sunday -- play hard and with purpose -- to end the Eagles career for Reid with a win. And their 2013 Draft position will suffer as a result. Eagles 23, Giants 20.”

I actually agree with Corey. I think the Birds don’t want to punk Big Red. I know many fans (and the press) hate how Reid never answers questions and refuses to really talk about his team, but for his players it means the world that their leader will never throw them under the bus. Also, let's remember that Reid's team are 8-2 (including playoffs) against the G-Men since the start of the 2008 season.

Vick plays well enough and the defense plays better as the Birds finish at 5-11 after a 27-13 win.

But maybe the way that fans are feeling about this game is best summed up by Birds' Nest blogger Brian Solomon: “What the heck, Eagles win 23-22.”

There is just a level of uncertainty with this team. Seems like graphics guy Derek at least found something he feels more certain about. “I’m going for the sure thing,” he said. “Professor Plum, in the kitchen, with the rope!”

What do you think will happen Sunday?

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vick & Reid Are Going Out Together]]> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 17:48:17 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/106898426.jpg

On Sunday, Andy Reid will go out and coach his last game with the Eagles. His 243rd game as head coach in Philadelphia, 14 seasons of ups and downs. And I'm so glad that Michael Vick will be quarterbacking that final game.

I know it doesn't really matter. Getting another chance to see Nick Foles is probably a better use of our time. But Vick's story will always be so closely tied to Reid for me. Sure, Donovan McNabb was the long-running franchise icon who Reid groomed and partnered with for the best years. And Kevin Kolb was supposed to be second in line after that. But Vick disrupted that natural progression — leading to one of the highest points in Reid's tenure and, ironically, his lowest.

If there was one thing you could say about Reid (beside fat jokes and run-pass ratio gripes), it was that the coach was a quarterback whisperer. McNabb and Kolb both crumpled after they departed Philly. Guys like AJ Feeley and Jeff Garcia had no business being successful, but Reid made them so. Yet nothing cemented Reid's reputation more than salvaging Vick's career.

Truthfully, I think even Reid believed Vick was beyond saving. He did provide refuge after Vick spent two years in jail. But it always seemed like an investment more than a true rebuilding project. With the backing of Tony Dungy and Roger Goodell, Reid saw a beaten down player with immense talent who he could buy cheaply and sell later on, while being a fun toy to play with in the meantime. He never intended to start Vick. The 2010 offseason was filled with nearly as many Vick trade rumors as there were for McNabb.

If not for a twist of fate (or Kolb's neck), Vick never would have started in Philadelphia. But not only did he start, he experienced a resurrection. Vick was always a dynamic fan-favorite, but suddenly he was commanding one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The player  who had never been a complete player was running, passing, and executing Reid's offense better than McNabb ever did. That 2010 team didn't win a playoff game, but there were eternal memories nonetheless. Remember the opening play bomb to DeSean Jackson that kicked off a 59-point score against the Redskins? Remember the Miracle at the New Meadowlands

Although we didn't know it at the time, these victories were the last hurrah for both Reid and Vick in Philadelphia. The last two years devolved as both Reid and Vick fell from their lofty 2010 peak. What had seemed to be the master stroke of Reid's career turned out to be a fleeting mirage of success. He made terrible coaching and personnel decisions. Vick couldn't replicate the efficiency he had demonstrated for the first time at age 30.

With the end of their careers in Philly inexorably entwined, it is fitting that Vick and Reid should go out together. And while I still hope for the best draft pick losing can buy, it will be hard for me not to root for them on the way out. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What to Watch: Eagles vs. Giants]]> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 10:14:54 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Andy+Reid+2009+Vick+Sideline.jpg

Game time: Sunday, Dec. 30, 1:00 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium
Weather: low 30s, snow possible
Records: Eagles (4-11) at Giants (8-7)

1. Is the Michael Vick's swan song?
It sure seems that way. Of course, the real answer is slightly more nuanced than "yep, he's gone." First, would Vick be willing to restructure the $100 million contract he signed before the 2011 season? Second, would the new coach have a use for Vick's talent?

Put another way: say Oregon's Chip Kelly is hired, wouldn't he want a player like Vick? Sure. For just about everybody else, however, Vick's not the long-term (or short-term) answer. Either way, he's handled his demotion about as well as can be expected and he deserves one last start before he and Andy Reid sail off into the proverbial sunset.

2. Did we overhype Bryce Brown?
Yeah, probably. After weeks of touting him as a nice complement to LeSean McCoy -- a bigger, faster, cheaper version of Shady but with an acute fumbling problem -- Brown barely saw the field against the Redskins last week. It's no coincidence that McCoy also returned to the starting lineup after missing nearly a month with a concussion. So while Brown may not be quite ready for primetime, we still think he has a place in the Eagles' offense (and whatever shape it takes in 2013). And his chances of sticking around would improve immensely if he took it easy on the turnovers.

3. Can the Eagles protect Vick from the Giants' pass rush?
This will be an interesting subplot to the game. Nick Foles had his share of growing pains but he's also a rookie. Vick, meanwhile, was drafted in 2000 and as recently as a few months ago there were still questions about whether he could properly read defenses -- both before the snap and just after it. New York's front four creates problems for the league's most astute quarterbacks, and those problems will only be exacerbated if Vick struggles to decipher what he's seeing.

4. Can Philly get after a struggling Eli Manning?
Absolutely. The defense has been a huge disappointment but it's shown glimpses of promise. It's not much but, well, when you're a four-win outfit with one game to go, glimpses are all you have. The Giants' offensive line is beat up and Eli Manning is playing like he's stuck in 2004. He's made more mistakes in the last two months than he made all of last season. If the Eagles can generate a pass rush with four or five players (and it's reasonable to think that they can), the defense could have a big day.

5. Is there any way Andy Reid doesn't get fired?
Only if Reid gets his hands on a time machine and figures out how to win the division and make a deep run through the playoffs. Otherwise, nope, not a chance.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Should Follow Seahawks' Quarterback Path]]> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 01:02:36 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/152096549.jpg

The Eagles lost to the Redskins Sunday, setting up an easy narrative about Robert Griffin III and the future. The Eagles need to find their RGIII, and they need to do it fast. But finding that one can't-miss prospect is exceedingly difficult.

A preliminary look at the 2013 NFL Draft class says that none of the quarterbacks are at the level of a Griffin or an Andrew Luck. Geno Smith seems likely to be the first one drafted, but he may go before the Eagles get a chance at him.

After that, what other options will the Eagles have? Certainly there will be other prospects worth considering. Lesser talents perhaps, but if you get the right one... Aaron Rodgers was drafted later in the first round, Drew Brees in the early second and don't me started on Tom Brady. It's possible that the Eagles could succeed going down this route.

But the key lies not in trying to replicate the Redskins' success at betting it all on one quarterback. It worked spectacularly with a player like RGIII, but that's no guarantee. Plenty of teams have tried that model recently and failed, because they wish-casted success upon a young quarterback who never blossomed into a true franchise guy. Look at the Jets, who saddled Mark Sanchez with a long-term deal before he actually proved he could be a good quarterback. Making a move like that can set your team back years.

No, the path I would really like the Eagles start down next year isn't the Redskins model (although absolutely draft Smith if you can). It's the Seahawks you want to look at. In 2011, Pete Carroll didn't have a quarterback he could trust. Tarvaris Jackson was the starter, and he posted the 25th-best DVOA in the league.

Carroll went out and signed Matt Flynn, the Green Bay backup, to a 3-year, $20 million contract. If he had handed the job to Flynn, that would have been a mistake. But Carroll then grabbed Russell Wilson in the third round and put the two quarterbacks into open competition.

Obviously, things have worked out splendidly. Wilson won the job, and has improved into one of the better quarterbacks in the league (4th in DVOA). But it was the overall strategy that should be credited and emulated. Carroll didn't go all in on Flynn or Wilson. He made smaller bets on each and let them play it out on the field.

Some people in the Eagles community want the team to jump in with Nick Foles next year. That's crazy. The rookie has shown some fleeting promise and ability, but nothing that tells me he's a sure bet in 2013 or beyond. The way forward isn't to jettison him for someone else, necessarily, but it's about hedging your bets by signing and drafting as many promising quarterbacks as you can get your hands on.

Draft a quarterback early and late. Sign somebody in free agency. Trade for a promising backup. Rinse and repeat. You're rarely going to be able to compete for the Super Bowl until you find your one franchise guy. Might as well cycle through as many potentials as you can until you do. The financial cost of doing so is less than the opportunity cost of sitting pat with one player, Foles, who is statistically unlikely to ever become an elite quarterback.

The worst thing that can happen, going forward, is that you don't bring in competition for Foles and he falls apart. Then you've set yourself a year or more behind in the rebuilding process. Bringing in more quarterbacks only increases the odds of success that one of them -- even Foles -- will turn out well. And heaven forbid that the Eagles might end up with multiple valuable quarterbacks. What a horrible outcome that would be.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Head Coach Candidates: Greg Roman]]> Thu, 27 Dec 2012 22:32:55 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Greg+Roman.jpg

Who will replace Andy Reid in 2013? With this season spiraling out of control, that's one of the few relevant questions left to ponder. As such, I hope you'll indulge me in an ongoing series discussing potential top candidates for the Eagles head coaching job.

Who Is Greg Roman?

The 40-year-old San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator has popped up on the radar for possible NFL coaches recently. A native of Ventor, N.J., Roman was reported as a finalist for the Penn State job that went to Bill O'Brien a year ago and has been mentioned for a few other jobs. He graduated in 1993 from John Carroll University in Ohio, where he started for two years on the defensive line. Two years after he left, he got a job as the strength and conditioning assistant/defensive quality control coach with the expansion Carolina Panthers. He toiled in grunt work for the Panthers for seven years, moving to offensive quality control coach, then offensive assistant, and finally assistant offensive line coach.

Roman then left to reunite with former Panthers head coach Dom Capers with the Houston Texans. He started as tight ends coach in 2002, then moved to quarterbacks coach in 2004. Roman coached David Carr from 04-05, with little to show for it, and was canned with Capers after 2005. He caught on with the Ravens for two years back as assistant offensive line coach, before Brian Billick was fired after 2007.

After a year in exile, coaching at his high school alma mater, Roman was tapped by Jim Harbaugh to work for him at Stanford. His job title was bizarre (Tight Ends/Offensive Tackles/Running Game Coordinator), but Roman was a key figure in producing two years of top pro-style offense, the first centered on running back Toby Gerhart and the second on quarterback Andrew Luck.

When Harbaugh jumped to the 49ers, he brought Roman along as offensive coordinator. The San Francisco offense was only 18th in DVOA last season, but Roman and Harbaugh were the first coaches to make Alex Smith into a viable starting quarterback, by simplifying the game. They made it to the NFC championship game in their first year with what Harbaugh called "a Greg Roman offense." This year they promoted Colin Kaepernick under center, utilizing college spread concepts and the pistol formation to build a completely different offense that currently ranks 5th in DVOA.

Why Hire Greg Roman?

There are a few solid reasons to consider Roman. First, I'm not sure there's been a more successful coach anywhere in football than Jim Harbaugh over the last few years (college and pro). He has won more than 75 percent of his games while Roman has been on board. It would be nice to benefit from the lessons Roman learned during that time.

And while Roman is still young, his offensive flexibility has been impressive. One Niners blogger described hearing players call Roman an offensive genius and "mad scientist." The results speak for themselves -- in college or the pros, with Luck, Smith or Kaepernick. Whether the Eagles end up developing Nick Foles or another young quarterback, Roman's ability to adapt his scheme and add new wrinkles would be helpful.

Why Not Hire Greg Roman?

While youth can be an asset in head coach hires, my biggest question with Roman is that he may not have enough top-level experience. That he has ridden Harbaugh's coattails straight to the top is one of his best selling points, but it's also a weakness. We don't know how much the success is due to Harbaugh rather than Roman. He has 15 years of NFL experience, but most of that was spent bouncing around as a lowly assistant. Only the most recent two were as a coordinator. Before Harbaugh rescued him, Roman was forced to spend a year coaching high schoolers. (Note: Roman said he had multiple offers to return to the NFL.)

Final Thoughts

Due to his success in San Fran, Roman is a natural finalist for any head coaching job. I hold strong reservations along the line noted above, but similar things could have been said about Andy Reid back in the day. If Roman came to the interview with a clear plan in hand and demonstrated leadership and management smarts, that would go a long way toward convincing me that he's ready to run a team of his own.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Picks: Eagles at Giants]]> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 23:41:36 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Vick+Warmups+With+Ball.jpg

Remember when owner Jeffrey Lurie called last season's 8-8 record "unacceptable?" We can't wait to hear how he describes the encore performance.

ESPN: We have no idea what's going on with the self-proclaimed World Wide Leader in sports. For a month now, their picks page hasn't been updated by Thursday morning. We're guessing they'll get around to it at some point, but as it stands, we're working from the premise that they're all recovering from too many fruitcakes at the company holiday party. Given that one person picked the Eagles over the Redskins last week (Eric Allen, natch), we'll wager that one person likes them this week too (yep, Allen).

CBSSports.com: No one at CBSSports.com likes the Eagles, which has been a reality for several months now. And when we say "no one" we mean that literally. All nine experts are taking the Giants, an outfit that, in recent weeks, has played some of the worst football you'll ever see.

Here's CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, who is slightly more optimistic with the breakdown: "The Giants are barely alive, but they have to win here to have any chance. The Eagles will start Mike Vick here in what is likely his last game with the team. Can he show off for a new employer? The Giants haven't been good on defense, so I think he can. This will be high scoring and fun to watch. Giants, 37-30."

Yahoo Sports: It's a Christmas miracle. Two of the three Yahoo experts are taking Philly. Honestly, we're surprised more people are on the Giants bandwagon given just how poorly they've played in recent weeks. Of course, the argument is that New York has something to play for while Philly's fate has been sealed for some time.

What Vegas is saying (via OddShark.com):

The Eagles are:
* 2-8 against the spread in its last 10 games;
* 1-10 straight up in its last 11 games;
* 1-5 straight up in its last six games on the road;
* 8-1 straight up in their last nine games when playing NY Giants;
* 5-0 straight up in their last five games when playing on the road against NY Giants.

The Giants are:
* 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games;
* 2-5 straight up in their last seven games;
* 5-1 straight up in their last six games at home;
* 1-8 straight up in their last nine games when playing Philadelphia;
* 1-8 against the spread in their last nine games when playing Philadelphia;
* 0-5 straight up in their last five games when playing at home against Philadelphia;
* 0-5 against the spread in their last five games when playing at home against Philadelphia.

* Me (7-5): We admit it, we're off the Eagles' bandwagon, too. We want to be on it, for sentimental reasons, and this team could beat a just-as-hapless Giants team Sunday. We just don't think they will. New York, 20-17.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>