August 23, 2014 |
If the first two preseason games weren't enough to declare the Eagles defense a disaster in waiting, then Thursday night's steadier outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn't enough to pronounce the unit cured of all its issues. But there has been one constant through the preseason, and that has been the performance of linebacker Mychal Kendricks. In the opener against the Bears, he had good coverage as a pass defender. A week later vs. the Patriots, he was a disruptive run stopper.
August 20, 2014 |
THE THEMES of this summer's Eagles camp have centered around injuries and rules. Who can practice and, more importantly, who can't. Who can touch who and when and where. A year ago it was all about the breakneck pace of Chip Kelly's offense and how it would most certainly break some bones in the process, especially those who would play on his overtaxed defense. But then the season played out, the breakdown of bodies did not occur, and the themes shifted to Kelly's employ of the mysterious "sports science," which as far as anyone on the outside can discern, is a pseudo phrase for no more tacos.
August 13, 2014 |
MYCHAL Kendricks had a plan. Sitting at his locker the day after the season ended, still stung by the playoff loss to the Saints, Kendricks vowed to spend the next 6 months in front of his iPad compiling an encyclopedic knowledge of the game's better players; of its predominant schemes; of top coaches' preferred tactics and tendencies. Then, he spoke with his Eagles coaches. His plan changed. "Instead, I went back and watched film on myself. Now, I know myself better. My tendencies.
August 5, 2014 |
DeMeco Ryans played 96 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps last year. The only reason the linebacker didn't play 99 percent was because the Eagles had blown out the Raiders and Bears and the reserves played in garbage time. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis had talked about limiting Ryans' snaps midway through the season, but except for the few times when the Eagles went with their "dime" package, it never quite happened. It should happen this season. The Eagles have more depth for substitution packages, particularly with cornerback Nolan Carroll as the likely sixth defensive back in the dime defense.
August 5, 2014 |
BILL DAVIS is optimistic that his defense will be better this season. His players feel the same way. But improvement usually comes with change, and many wonder whether the Eagles have made enough changes to the defense in the offseason to bring improvement. While they added much-needed depth in the secondary and spent their first-round pick in the draft on a talented but raw pass rusher, in all likelihood 10 of the 11 defensive starters who will take the field at the Linc for the Sept.
June 11, 2014 |
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been calling the plays, making checks, and setting the first-team defense this spring. Wait, you may be saying, isn't that DeMeco Ryans' job? Well, yes, it remains his responsibility, but the Eagles have put more on Kendricks' plate this offseason. "We're both inside linebackers," Kendricks said. "He does do that, but I'm there for him just like he's there for me. And we both make calls, even though he has the last say in what the call will be. Sometimes, I'm in there making those calls, too. " It's difficult to say for certain why the Eagles decided to give Kendricks a more vocal role.
June 4, 2014 |
THE EAGLES' most irreplaceable defensive player was shaking his head yesterday, smiling but puzzled. Reporters kept asking if offseason personnel additions might allow DeMeco Ryans to play fewer than the league-high 1,157 snaps he logged in 2013. "You tryin' to get me off the field?" Ryans asked a reporter who wondered if there were any packages that didn't include the middle linebacker this year. Like, oh, say, a dime setup, with six defensive backs and one linebacker, which the Eagles didn't feature in their first season under Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis?
May 29, 2014 |
DeMeco Ryans will turn 30 in July, and he is coming off a season in which he played more regular-season snaps than any defensive player in the NFL. After enduring questions last spring about whether he could be a three-down linebacker in the Eagles' 3-4 defense, Ryans now entertains questions about whether he's on the field too much. Ryans played 1,157 snaps last season - 96 percent of the Eagles' defensive plays. Pro Football Focus, which includes penalties and kneel-downs, determined that he played more snaps than any defensive player in the NFL. But Ryans said he feels healthy and is not going to volunteer to take breathers in 2014.
May 2, 2014 |
First of a series of looks at positions the Eagles might target in the May 8-10 NFL draft. Linebacker * What they have: Inside, Mychal Kendricks is a young building block. DeMeco Ryans, leading tackler the two seasons he has been an Eagle, emerged as the defensive leader and played really well against the run in 2013, but wasn't great against the pass. Ryans, who turns 30 in July, won't man the middle forever. Outside, Connor Barwin is a solid, smart player who still should have plenty of mileage left at 27. The other spot is a question.
February 4, 2014 |
THEY HAVE a running back who wants to tackle better. They have a linebacker who seeks encyclopedic knowledge. They have a bull of a nose tackle who wants to be stronger, and a tight end who wants to be the best ever. Only one of these young players started more than half of this season's games for the Eagles. They are a second tier of young talent overshadowed by second-year players such as quarterback Nick Foles and defensive end Fletcher Cox, who already might have shown their strongest hands.