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An outlook of the Washington Redskins seasonby Michael Kist on June 17, 2019 at 3:48 pm
Eye On the Enemy Extra with Mark Bullock... The Washington Redskins enter the 2019 NFL season with more questions than answers. At least that’s how we saw it on The Kist & Solak Show #99, where we continued our Eye On the Enemy series by focusing on Washington. To help bring clarity to specific questions we had about the Redskins, I spoke with Mark Bullock of The Athletic DC for a special Eye On the Enemy Extra! One of the major questions we had was regarding a recent report that starting left tackle Trent Williams wanted out of town. This would be a huge shot to the offensive line as they’ve recently lost a key depth piece in Ty Nsekhe when he walked in free agency to the Buffalo Bills. How much stock should we take in those rumors though? “Yesterday it was reported that Redskins LT Trent Williams was skipping this week’s mandatory mini-camp due to a contract dispute. It was reported that he wanted a new deal or a trade. Williams has two years left on his deal worth $24 million with no guaranteed money. Fans and pundits had a field day with what that meant for the Redskins, Williams’ worth, the cost of injuries, and the meaning of life.” - Scott Jennings, Hogs Haven With only one “insider” claiming Williams refuses to play for the Redskins, Bullock downplayed the rumor, while adding there are legitimate grounds for Williams to be upset. The medical staff in Washington has been among the worst in the league in recent history and Williams has been particularly banged up. Still, the expectation is that Williams will be back with the Redskins, perhaps with a shiny new contract. Another question that popped up on The Kist & Solak Show #99 was the status of free safety Montae Nicholson. We were perplexed by the lack of playing time in 2018 after an excellent 2017 campaign. In fact, he was my top free safety in the NFC East entering 2018. “... even with a small sample size of only 8 games played, Montae Nicholson made enough of an impact to vault in front of a thin group. The 4th round selection out of Michigan State was rock solid in coverage for the Redskins; on 190 passing plays he was targeted 7 times, allowing 3 receptions for 22 yards, and 1 touchdown while also collecting 1 interception for a NFC East low 0.12 yards per coverage snap. That number puts him top 5 in the NFL among safeties that played at least 25% of their teams defensive passing snaps.” - Michael Kist Bullock cited scheme fit, injuries, and a failed experiment with HaHa Clinton-Dix as reasons for Nicholson seeing the field less, but expects him to regain his starting spot this upcoming season. We cover all that and much more, including how Bullock views the tumultuous front office, on an Eye On the Enemy Extra: Washington Redskins edition! Listen to it on the media player below or click here the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts? Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY! […]
3 under the radar areas the Eagles can improveby Dave Mangels on June 17, 2019 at 3:00 pm
Get better every day “Get better everyday” is a mantra that coaches and players alike use in the summer. Improvements come in all shapes and sizes, and today we’ll look at three areas that the Eagles could improve on that may not be high profile but certainly would help them win games. Coincidentally, they cover the offense, defense, and special teams. Offense: Stop fumbling Sheil Kapadia touched on this last week: According to SportRadar, Eagles running backs have fumbled 38 times since [Duce] Staley took over in 2013. That’s second-most in the NFL. On a percentage basis, they’ve fumbled on 1.35 percent of their touches during that span, which ranks fourth-worst. Last season the top 32 running backs by carries fumbled on 0.7% of their touches, half the rate of the Eagles under Staley’s tenure. Unfortunately for Staley and the Eagles, there’s no one player skewing the results for everyone else. Five running backs have fumbled on at least 1% of touches under Staley: Jay Ajayi (1.1%), Corey Clement (2.1%), Ryan Mathews (2.0%), Wendell Smallwood (1.1%), and Darren Sproles (1.5%). There have been successes though, as LeGarrette Blount was excellent at 0.5%, and LeSean McCoy’s 0.7% in his two seasons with Staley was solid. That may be one reason why they traded for Jordan Howard. Howard has just 5 fumbles on 850 touches, a 0.6% rate. However Miles Sanders fumbled on 3.2% of his touches in college. Staley has his work cut out for him. Defense: 1st downs Finding the first domino that fell is the key to fixing problems. Being good on first down isn’t the reason why defenses are good on third down, but it sure helps to avoid third and short if you’re not giving up yardage on first down. In 2017 the Eagles defense gave up just 4.33 yards per play on 1st and 10. On the ground they gave up just 3.5 yards per attempt, and in the air they were suffocating, averaging just 5.5 yards per pass attempt for a 77.1 passer rating. They made QBs play like Blaine Gabbert on first down. As a result, just 21% of third downs were of 3 or fewer yards, and they gave up a first down or touchdown on 1st or 2nd down on 3% of plays. 2018 was comparatively a disaster, averaging 6.68 yards on first and 10. There were no bright spots. They gave up 5.0 yards per carry. QBs averaged 8.5 yards per attempt and a 96.8 rating. The rate of short 3rd downs increased to 29%, and they gave up a first down or touchdown on 1st or 2nd down on 7% of plays. Special teams: Penalties Good or bad special teams gains or costs you “hidden yards.” It’s the same for penalties, so when you combine the two, it’s magnified. Eagles special teams struggled in 2018, and one reason was penalties. In 2017, Eagles special teams committed 0.79 penalties for 7.26 yards per game. In 2018 those rose to 0.94 penalties for 8.83 yards per game. Less than a penalty a game may not seem like much, but the Eagles ST penalty rate increased 15% and the yardage they gave up increased by even more. If that happened on offense or defense, it would be crippling. The Eagles were fortunate that none of the special teams penalties cost the Eagles a game in 2018. But they may not be so lucky in 2019 if they don’t improve. […]
Three Eagles make PFF’s list of the 50 best NFL players heading into the 2019 seasonby Brandon Lee Gowton on June 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm
Lots of love for the trenches. Pro Football Focus recently unveiled their top 50 players heading into the 2019 NFL season. A total of three Philadelphia Eagles made PFF’s list. Here’s a look at the rankings, along with some thoughts. BRANDON GRAHAM 41. Edge Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles: Sacks don’t tell the whole story for any player in the NFL, and no player epitomizes that more than Graham. He’s only recorded double-digit sacks in PFF’s system once (2017) but has been as consistent as they come from an overall pressure and pass-rush grade standpoint. He has recorded 45 or more pressures in six of his last seven seasons in the NFL and has earned 81.0-plus pass-rush grades in five of them. I think some might be sleeping on Graham heading into 2019. There’s no denying that Philly’s Super Bowl hero didn’t have his best season in 2018. Graham’s four sacks ranked tied for fourth lowest in his career. But it was apparent that Graham wasn’t operating at 100% last season. He had ankle surgery last May and he missed most of training camp ahead of the 2018 campaign. And even in a “down year,” Graham still finished last season with the most quarterback hurries of any edge rusher. He also ranked 27th out of 109 edge rushers in PFF’s pressure rate. The Eagles are clearly counting on Graham to bounce back or else they wouldn’t have re-signed him to a three-year contract worth $40 million back in March. There’s reason to believe the 31-year-old will age well considering his game is based on power and not just speed. Graham should also have a lot of tread left on the tires considering he didn’t become a full-time starter until 2015. The Eagles really need Graham to continue to be a force off the edge in 2019. JASON KELCE 24. C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles: Kelce’s four-year overall grade (91.1) ranks fourth among the 94 interior offensive linemen with at least 2,000 offensive snaps played since 2015, and his 93.4 run-block grade ranks first among the same group of qualifiers. Most recently, Kelce earned a career-high 88.0 pass-blocking grade in addition to his 80.7 run-blocking grade in 2018. He also earned a 94.6 run-blocking grade throughout the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017, a single-season mark that ranks first in the PFF era (2006-18) among qualifying centers and one that landed him PFF’s top run-blocker award in 2017. From PFF’s Mike Renner following Kelce’s stellar 2017 campaign: “A combination of Pederson scheming more to Kelce’s strengths and Kelce getting stronger flipped the All-Pro switch once again inside the Eagles center. He’s been dominant in the run game, from the first snap to the last, with only one sub-par graded game all season.” It’s easy to take for granted just how good Kelce has been for the Eagles. He’s critical to their success. You can make the case he’s the team’s most irreplaceable player outside of Carson Wentz. Think back to any point Kelce has missed time. The Eagles had their worst season in recent history when Kelce tore his ACL in 2012. The team had their worst defeat in recent history when Kelce got hurt early into the Eagles’ 48-7 loss to the Saints. The Eagles are fortunate to not have lost The Bearded Wonder to retirement this offseason. FLETCHER COX 4. DI Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles: It’s a shame that Cox plays in the same league as Donald; he’d be the unanimous decision for top defensive interior if it weren’t for the Rams superstar. Cox’s pass-rush win rate in 2018 (20.9%) is the fourth-best single-season mark of any defensive interior in the PFF era. And his 91.2 pass-rush grade this past season, another career-high for the big man, also ranks inside the top 10 among qualifiers since 2006. From PFF’s Austin Gayle in his latest feature on Cox comparing him and Donald: “Among the 125 interior defensive linemen with 500 or more pass-rush snaps since 2015, Donald ranks first in pass-rush grade (95.9), total pressures (375) and pass-rush win percentage (22.1%). Cox ranks second behind Donald in all three metrics. And the trend continues, as Donald led all at his position in pass-rush grade in each of the past four seasons (2015-18). Cox ranked second two of the years (2017 & 2018) and third in another (2015).” Cool to see Cox getting recognized as one of the league’s very best players. Cox had a strong season last year despite playing next to guys like Haloti Ngata, Treyvon Hester, Bruce Hector, and “T.Y. McGill.” Now Cox is primarily going to be lining up next to the likes of Malik Jackson and a healthy Timmy Jernigan. Teams aren’t going to be able to double Cox as easily. And if they do, Jackson and Jernigan should be able to take advantage. The Eagles’ interior pass rush unit has the potential to be incredibly disruptive. ... Eagles players who notably missed PFF’s list include: Carson Wentz, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Brooks. Who got snubbed the worst? […]
Joe Douglas has a lot of good things to say about Doug Pederson and Howie Rosemanby Alexis Chassen on June 17, 2019 at 1:50 pm
The new Jets’ GM briefly remarked on his time in Philly. It hasn’t been long since Joe Douglas left the Eagles front office and took the General Manager position for the Jets. He joined NFL Insider Adam Schefter to talk about his new opportunity, why he made the move, and a few other Eagles tidbits. On how his family felt about being “uprooted” and having to move, he told Schefter: “I think they’re excited, I really do. We were able to make a lot of really great friends in the Philadelphia area, living in South Jersey, and we’re going to miss some of those people but the good news is we’re only an hour and a half away.” Douglas was also asked to reflect a little bit on his time with the Ravens, Bears and, of course, the Eagles, and specifically what he learned from guys like Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman. “Just the way Doug handled his first year. We started off 3-0, things were looking great, we lost some guys, we hit some pot holes along the way, we finished the season 7-9 and the way that he attacked that offseason and how he was able to unify the team with his messaging. And the type of guy he is, he’s as genuine and authentic of a person as you’ll ever meet. He’s a guy who says what he means, and means what he says, and players believe in him and they believe in his aggressive mindset, and so I love how he managed the team. And Howie, can’t say enough great things about how, the moves that Howie made to position that team. You talk about the Carson Wentz trade, you talk about all the home-grown players when he came back he re-signed to make the locker room feel like a safe place, the additions that we were able to add to that team, the culture we were able to build in that locker room. I feel like it all came together in that 2017 season and it really made that a special year.” Schefter went on to joke that given the right amount of money, Howie would be willing to trade one of his kids. And while Douglas wouldn’t go that far, he did elaborate on Roseman being a family-first kind of guy. “It was great to have a person that you work with that believes in that, that believes in a lot of the same things you do. If there was ever an issue with family, it was family first all the way and that was awesome.” Douglas later mentioned that he prepared for his interview with the Jets by watching a lot of game tape in order to be able to discuss some of the intricacies of the team. He did note that the film study came after he spoke with Howie Roseman about the opportunity. The new General Manager admitted that the whole situation is pretty surreal and he’s been doing a lot more talking than he’s used to — which also includes opening up to Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated as well. And while he’s excited for the opportunity, it wasn’t that easy for him to make the decision to leave this Philly team, according to Albert Breer: “I really feel like that franchise, that football team, they’re firing on all cylinders,” Douglas said. “It’s as deep of a team as I’ve ever seen there. And that’s including the ’17 team. There’s a lot of good going on. And so that made it a really tough decision.” When talking to Breer, he echoed that same sentiments he made to Schefter about Howie Roseman wanting to prove to the players that there was stability in the locker room following the Chip Kelly era. “[Roseman] knew the building was fractured,” Douglas said. “He knew that the players needed a safe harbor. And he wanted to send a message to the homegrown players that if you do right, you’re going to be cared for—we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I think that went a long way.” Douglas also mentioned to Breer that the Eagles had previously shown interest in Avery Williamson as a 2018 free agent, and liked a lot about tight end Chris Herndon ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft — who was taken by the Jets in Round 4. So, Douglas may be moving 90 minutes north, but there’s still love between him and the Eagles organization, especially Howie Roseman. That’s a relationship that was built on respect and will continue in that fashion even as he takes a new post with the Jets. […]
The Linc - Eagles players vote Dallas Goedert as most impressive player from spring practicesby Brandon Lee Gowton on June 17, 2019 at 12:44 pm
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 6/17/19. Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ... Eagles spring wrap-up: Lingering questions and the locker room decides which player impressed most - The AthleticCornerback Jalen Mills: “Who impressed me? Dallas Goedert. In that red zone, he crazy. He’s dangerous in the red zone.” [...] Informed that he received the most votes of any player on the team (seven), more than twice that of the next-closest players (Hawkins, Ostman and Michel), Dallas Goedert delivered a brief victory biceps flex and a deflective laugh. “I’ve had a pretty good spring,” he said. “It’s cool to be recognized like that, so I appreciate my teammates.” Let’s remember some minicamp guys - BGNYou’d be excused if you have never heard of, let alone can recognize, Marken Michel. Sony Michel’s brother was an undrafted free agent from UMass in 2016 who got cut from Vikings camp and spent the next three years in Canada. He’s a 5’11” wide receiver. He wears #80, which was last seen looking weird on Jordan Matthews, and before that was given to such luminaries as Markus Wheaton, Adam Zaruba, and Ronald Johnson. He shouldn’t stick out. He should be just another warm body for late round pick developmental players to get some reps against. Eagles OL coach Jeff Stoutland’s many thoughts on OT Andre Dillard - PhillyVoiceOn what he has seen from Dillard in spring practices: “Consistent improvement. He improves every day. He’s exactly what he was when we evaluated him. He’s just smooth, a great athlete. A lot of people have asked me, or said, ‘His weakness is run blocking.’ I’ve heard that a million times. I kind of needle him with that a little bit. But I don’t necessarily believe that. Because a player was not asked to do that in college doesn’t mean that he’s deficient in that area. We do a lot of things here where we combination block. If we’re going to combination block, one of the important factors is for the trail player to get hip-to-hip, shoulder-to-shoulder. Well, to be able to do that, you have to be able to close the distance, and man can he close the distance. And that was on the video that we analyzed before the draft. You saw how fast he got into the guard, how quickly he surfaced that double-team block. That’s part of run-blocking -- a huge part of it.” Interesting Angle - Iggles BlitzThe Eagles are heavy at CB. The 2017 starters, Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, are working their way back from injuries. The team still has high hopes for Sidney Jones, who is healthy this spring and playing well. Avonte Maddox showed tremendous potential last year and is someone the Eagles definitely want on the field. Rasul Douglas started 12 games over the past two years and could push for a starting role this season. Cre’Von LeBlanc came out of nowhere to have a terrific season in the slot last year. His ability to play inside makes him a valuable DB. The Eagles need to keep five CBs. That means someone could be dealt. The flip side is that the team had to deal with all kinds of injuries last year. Howie Roseman may not be in a rush to trade anyone, especially with Darby and Mills still on the mend. If Roseman does want to deal someone, the Jets make a lot of sense. Lawlor: Stability remains a hallmark of Eagles organization - PE.comCarson Wentz recently signed a four-year extension with the Eagles. The talented young quarterback has high expectations for himself and the team. One of the reasons is that this is his fourth season and quarterback is a position where experience really matters. Beyond just general experience, this will be Wentz’s fourth season in the same scheme. It will be his fourth season playing for the same head coach. He knows the playbook, but also has a strong relationship with the man calling the plays. They are very much on the same page and that has helped Wentz to develop into the star player who he is. Players need stability if they are to develop and reach their full potential. Teams need stability to win games. The Jets Got Their Man. What Now for GM Joe Douglas and Gang Green? - MMQBLeaving Philly wasn’t easy. And it wasn’t just because there were some pratfalls waiting for him 90 minutes north in Jersey. It was also because of where the Eagles are, which both promised to insulate his place as a hot young executive and provide chances to compete for championships. “I really feel like that franchise, that football team, they’re firing on all cylinders,” Douglas said. “It’s as deep of a team as I’ve ever seen there. And that’s including the ’17 team. There’s a lot of good going on. And so that made it a really tough decision.” Generating Buzz: 3 NFC Deep Sleepers to Monitor Heading into Camp - RotovizOf the new guys, Sanders finished his college career with 32 receptions for 193 yards. Howard’s struggles as a pass catcher are well documented, even though Eagles coach Duce Staley claimed to not be aware of the issue. Howard is one of only 16 RBs with at least 500 rush attempts in the last three seasons. Only four of the 16 have fewer receptions than Howard. None of them have a lower catch rate than Howard’s 66 percent. Darren Sproles has struggled with injuries in the last two seasons, and at the time of writing, he is not on the Eagles roster. Enter Boston Scott. PFF On How Data Is Changing NFL’s Present And Future - FMIAWe think the NFL now has a plethora of reasonable starting quarterbacks outside of the true superstars and any number of them can create top-10 production in any given year. Mid-tier quarterback production is more dependent on playmakers and scheme than ever before, so mid-tier quarterbacks need mid-tier contracts. The 7 best moments from ‘Hard Knocks’ we hope the Raiders can live up to - SB NationThe Oakland/soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders were announced as the subjects of HBO’s Hard Knocks, much to the delight of NFL fans everywhere. The Raiders have always been one of the more newsworthy organizations in NFL history, whether it be for good or bad reasons. Prior to their headline-grabbing moves this offseason, it seemed like the Raiders would have been the right choice for next year’s show, when their move to Las Vegas is set to begin. And yet, this couldn’t come at a better time for them. With characters like Jon Gruden, Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict, and Richie Incognito, the Raiders were a slam dunk choice. ... 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