NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson: 'Moving on'

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
DeSean Jackson wasn’t chatty when Channel 6 ABC reporter Jeff Skversky caught up with him at Dulles Airport in Virginia. But he also didn’t ignore the questions, telling Skversky he’s looking to the future.

"Moving on, bro. I don't have nothing to say about anything. I'm just moving on," Jackson said.

He used the same phrase when asked if he was mad at the Eagles for releasing him.

Jackson had arrived for a visit with Washington that included a dinner with members of the Redskins’ coaching staff, including head coach Jay Gruden, and an official visit at the facility Tuesday. Jackson hung out with Redskins players Pierre Garcon and DeAngelo Hall Monday night.

Various unconfirmed reports out of Philadelphia -- from 97.5's Tim McManus to Skversky -- stated that the former Eagles receiver had agreed to a deal Monday night. No deal had been signed as of early Tuesday morning. Regardless, the two sides appear to be moving that way.

If the Redskins do land Jackson, they become a potentially scary offense. Their one missing piece was a consistent deep threat and they have a quarterback who throws a good deep ball. Robert Griffin III doesn't have Michael Vick's arm, but he does have a good one. Now he'll potentially have Jackson, Garcon and Andre Roberts to throw to in addition to tight end Jordan Reed. All have good speed. Garcon is more dangerous on tougher routes underneath than on go routes, but he is fast and productive.

As the Eagles start to pull away from the division with a good offseason, the addition of Jackson would give the Redskins some momentum. Both teams still have work to do defensively. But if Griffin regains his big-play ability and Jackson isn't a distraction for a first-time head coach, then the Redskins will have firepower. They also have running back Alfred Morris, who has rushed for 2,888 yards in his first two seasons combined.

Jackson told Skversky he's confident his fans in Philadelphia won’t abandon him. That could be true -- until Jackson reminds them what they no longer have. This will be a move, if it indeed is finalized Tuesday, that could rile up two fan bases.

Jeremy Maclin's bet could pay off

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
Jeremy Maclin was betting on himself when he decided to sign a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.

He has a chance to cash in with a big 2014, and that chance got better when the Eagles decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson.

"I didn't really think about it," Maclin said in this Philadelphia Inquirer story. "I think my value is my value, regardless of who I have playing around me. That's my mindset and how I approach the situation."

The question for Maclin is his knee injury. Adrian Peterson has ruined the expectations for every player coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, setting a bar almost impossibly high. He ran for 2,097 yards in 2012 after tearing his ACL. Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tore his ACL but was not the same in 2013 as he was in 2012, and ex-coach Mike Shanahan ended his season early.

The normal progression is it takes a full year for a player to feel whole again.

While ACL comebacks are more common these days, the rehab is still a tedious process. Maclin is expected to be ready to go when training camp begins, but the Eagles could limit his work in the offseason program.

Maclin has big-play ability -- 26 touchdown catches in four seasons -- but he has never had more than 964 yards in a season. He has never caught more than 70 passes in a season. While he knows what Chip Kelly’s offense is about after being around the team, he hasn’t gone through it on the field before.

Patience on both ends will be wise. Maclin will have to be patient with his recovery. The Eagles will have to be patient with Maclin.

The reward for the patience could be big for both sides.
This is a sad situation for the Philadelphia Eagles and wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Even with the report from anonymous sources, it's difficult to figure out where the lion's share of blame belongs in this breakup.

[+] EnlargeKelly/Jackson
AP Photo/Michael PerezIt appears the Eagles and Chip Kelly didn't want to invest any more time in receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Eagles released Jackson, their most explosive player, on Friday afternoon. A report by alleges that Jackson has ties to Los Angeles gang members. The report shows a photo of Jackson flashing what can be perceived as gang signs.

Is that report part of the reason for Jackson's release? Did the team have issues with Jackson's alleged affiliations? Was his attitude toward meetings and practices not serious enough for the team?

The problem I have with all this is the failure of the two sides to stay on the same page for the greater good of the team. Why couldn't Jackson play within the rules? Why didn't the Eagles try harder to get their message across?

I find it difficult to believe that the Eagles could not talk things through with their leading receiver.

Why not confront him about being questioned by Los Angeles police regarding a friend of his, who is allegedly a gang member?

Why not demand he report to work on time? Show effort in practice?

I’m not saying Jackson has to be a choirboy. You find flaws in players, coaches and owners up and down every NFL roster. How a team manages those flaws can often be the difference between disarray and raising championship trophies.

Jackson isn’t the only player in the NFL who has alleged ties to gang members. People in all walks of life come across gang members, criminals and simply bad human beings. Are they all guilty by association?

Jackson isn’t the only player in the NFL with questionable work habits. Players have been late for meetings and shown disdain for practice since organized sports were created.

It's hard for me to believe the Eagles made the decision because of his practice habits. I'm just waiting for Jackson to respond by channeling another famous, but highly criticized, Philadelphia athlete. "Practice?! We talkin' about practice?!"

If the Eagles really wanted Jackson around, they would have formulated a plan to get him in the right place.

A league source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that the Eagles decided to release Jackson for a number of reasons, but most involved "work ethic and attitude."

The same source said the Eagles learned Wednesday night about Jackson's alleged associations in Los Angeles, and that report "raised their level of concern.”

Really? With as much as the team had invested in Jackson, they found out about those alleged relationships only this week? As sophisticated as scouting and security is in the NFL, it's very difficult to believe the Eagles didn't know who their star wide receiver was hanging out with from the time he was drafted until the time he was released.

Months before this report came out, there were photos of Jackson on his Instagram account with alleged gang members.

The Eagles, under a different regime, made a choice to select him in the second round. They have known him and what he's about for years. And now, all of a sudden, this reported gang association, his work ethic and missed meetings are major issues?

Where was the passion to get Jackson in line, much like there was when Michael Vick was signed back in 2009? Remember the protesters outside Lincoln Financial Field? Remember the outrage? The Eagles survived it all.

At the time of Vick’s signing, owner Jeffrey Lurie said he was appalled by the quarterback’s involvement with dogfighting. Lurie acted as if he wanted nothing to do with Vick and put everything on then-Eagles coach Andy Reid.

Those efforts worked out for the Eagles and for Vick, who became a solid citizen in Philadelphia. The Eagles showed patience and told Vick to live up to what the organization wanted from him.

Where was this effort for Jackson?

Chip Kelly is not Andy Reid, and apparently Kelly wasn't interested in putting in the time and effort it would have taken to get Jackson marching in the right direction.

I just can’t imagine how Jackson finished ninth in the NFL in receiving yards last season after being late to all these meetings and simply going through the motions in practice.

How did he manage so much success when it came down to game time?

Either the effort to help Jackson was going to be too much for the Eagles, or there was something very personal going on between Jackson and others in the organization.

If you ask me, the Eagles simply didn't care about getting one of the best wide receivers in the league to buy into the program. It wasn’t worth the effort.

You can bet somebody else will try.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Michael Vick generated plenty of buzz Wednesday at the NFL owners' meetings -- positive buzz.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, addressing reporters at the NFC coaches' breakfast, said the 33-year-old quarterback still has the physical skills to be a winning quarterback. Later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell commended Vick for changing his life in the aftermath of the dog-fighting scandal.

Vick signed a one-year contract last week with the New York Jets, who say he will compete with Geno Smith for the starting job.

"I still think he’s got a lot of football left in him,” said Kelly, who coached Vick last season. “He’s got tremendous arm skill. I don’t know too many guys in the league that have the arm that Mike does. There’s still days in practice in December when he rips a couple and you’re just like, ‘Whoa.’ He can throw the football. He still has the ability.”

Vick was Kelly's choice last season as the Eagles' Week 1 starter, but he got hurt and eventually lost his job to Nick Foles, who played brilliantly. That's the biggest question about Vick, his ability to stay healthy. He takes chances outside the pocket, trying to utilize his once-remarkable speed.

“He’s probably not as fast as when he first came into the league,” Kelly said. “But when he first came into the league, he was the fastest guy to ever play the position. A slower version of Michael is a lot faster than maybe every other quarterback in the league, with the exception of one or two."

Before signing Vick, who spent nearly two years in a federal prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson consulted with Goodell. The commissioner has developed a rapport over the years with Vick, whom he reinstated in 2009.

"I think Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake," Goodell told a news conference at the conclusions of the meetings. "He paid a very heavy price for it, but I’ve seen him in everything he’s done exceed expectations. He has worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot of different areas, and that’s something I admire about him.

"When we went through the process of reviewing [his return to the NFL], whether he had demonstrated he would do things the right way and be a positive force, he has. I’m proud of the work that he’s done.”
Michael Vick left the Philadelphia Eagles in part because he wanted a chance to be a starting quarterback. The New York Jets have offered him that chance.

“It’s going to be really interesting to watch that competition unfold,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., “but Geno Smith is going to be hard to beat out.”

Ryan said Vick would have a chance to be the Jets’ starter in Week 1, which led to questions about who would take the first snaps when the team’s on-field activities start this spring. Ryan deflected all of them, returning to a theme that competition is a good thing.

Smith threw for 3,046 yards as a rookie with 12 touchdown passes, but he was intercepted 21 times.

When Vick first got together with New York offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg with the Eagles, he had his best season with 21 touchdown passes and six interceptions in 2010. Ryan said Vick’s background with Mornhinweg and the system will help him in competing for the job.

It’s been awhile since Vick was that good, but Ryan believes Vick has plenty of football left.

“First off, you’re getting a guy who’s a proven winner,” Ryan said. “He is a dynamic player.”

It will be an interesting time around the Jets, as always.

We've seen these slow plays many times in the NFL.

It starts with a player agreeing with the premise of a question: Why, yes, I think I'm deserving of a raise. It continues with informed sources rendering a new contract unlikely. Next, you see reports like the one ESPN's Adam Schefter delivered Tuesday: That the Philadelphia Eagles aren't necessarily looking to trade receiver DeSean Jackson -- but they would be open, of course, to discussions initiated by other teams.

Typically, these machinations lead to one of three results: A trade, a new contract or a deteriorated relationship that limps through one final year together. It's not yet clear where the Eagles and Jackson will land, but there is no doubt they are approaching a crossroads in their association. Something will have to give in the next 12 months or so.

It's not difficult to see the roots of a burgeoning dispute.

Jackson, 27, is in his prime and is coming off the best season of his career in what seems a perfect scheme for his skills. Although he is scheduled to earn a healthy $10.5 million salary in 2014, and has a total of $30.5 million remaining on the five-year contract extension he signed in 2012, none of it is guaranteed. That means if Jackson is injured and/or released, the Eagles wouldn't owe him another cent.

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsDeSean Jackson finished the 2013 season with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
That's not an atypical environment for an NFL player to seek a new contract, especially after an 82-catch, 1,332-yard season. The Eagles, on the other hand, aren't likely to be interested in setting a precedent for renegotiating a contract with three years remaining before expiration.

The trade option is a natural discussion point, if for no other reason than high-stakes leverage. The Eagles could clear $4.5 million from their 2014 salary cap by dealing him ($10.5 million in base salary less $6 million in pro-rated bonus acceleration), but I can't imagine that savings would be enough of a motivation to part ways with what many would consider a transcendent player.

Ultimately, the Eagles must make a decision. Their dilemma has some parallels to the situation the Minnesota Vikings faced last spring with Percy Harvin.

Like Harvin, Jackson has a high-maintenance personality -- one that is hardly unique among NFL receivers but nevertheless requires extra care in handling. He has a habit of commenting publicly on his contract, something most teams disdain. You have to put in some work to have a smooth relationship with a Percy Harvin or a DeSean Jackson. That's the sometimes distasteful reality of managing superstars.

The Eagles must determine whether the compensation received in a trade, combined with losing both the contract and eliminating a potential distraction, outweighs the risk of parting ways with a player as talented as Jackson. Last spring, the Vikings determined that it was, happily accepting three draft picks from the Seattle Seahawks for Harvin.

The Eagles might have difficulty matching that bounty, and my sense is they would be best advised to find a way to make it work. Jackson is perfect for the Eagles' offensive system and they won't be as effective without him. But logic sometimes gets shoved aside in NFL decision-making, especially when pride and cash are involved, and for that reason Jackson's status with the Eagles merits increasingly close attention.
The Denver Broncos have won the offseason title and free agency is not even four days old.

John Elway signed safety T.J. Ward to a four-year, $23 million deal that guarantees him $14 million. He stole cornerback Aqib Talib away from the New England Patriots with a six-year, $57 million deal that guarantees him $26 million. Then he thanked the Dallas Cowboys for their cap woes and unwillingness to pay DeMarcus Ware and signed Ware to a three-year, $30 million deal that includes $20 million guaranteed.

Ware will make $250,000 more with the Broncos this year than he would have with the Cowboys.

Add those three to an offense that will still put up points even if Eric Decker leaves and Denver should be viewed as the favorites in the AFC.

In fact, they might look like a "Dream …" Sorry. Got something stuck in my throat. "A Dream …" Man, there it goes again.

One more time: A dream team.

Could the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles serve as a reminder that a "dream team" doesn’t mean a Super Bowl team?

To refresh: The Eagles loaded up with Jason Babin (five years, $28 million), Cullen Jenkins (five years, $25 million) and Nnamdi Asomugha (five years, $60 million). They traded Kevin Kolb and got Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in return. They added serviceable pieces in Ronnie Brown and Evan Mathis turned out to be a steal.

Then they signed Vince Young, who came up with the dream-team tag.

And Philadelphia finished 8-8.

The Broncos have Peyton Manning, so it’s hard to see an 8-8 season. But what happens if Manning gets hurt?
The Philadelphia Eagles' acquisition of Darren Sproles has been universally praised as a perfect match of scheme and skill. Why is that?

Quite simply, the Eagles' offense is built to spread out defenses and give ball carriers space to run. And no one in the NFL capitalized on those opportunities more than Sproles during his three-year run with the New Orleans Saints.

Take a look at the chart, which shows that Sproles has led the NFL since 2011 with 1,888 yards after the catch, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That figure represents 95 percent of his total receiving yards over that period, and it is the precise skill that Eagles coach Chip Kelly attempts to maximize.

Last season, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy accumulated 603 YAC. His average of 11.6 YAC per catch led the NFL.

(Statistical quirk: McCoy had more YAC than net receiving yards because of the frequency of receptions behind the line of scrimmage. The same goes for the Saints' Pierre Thomas. McCoy and Sproles, in fact, have the NFL's most catches behind the line -- 105 and 95, respectively -- over the past three years.)

Why do the Eagles need two players who do the same thing? I don't think it's quite that simple. Sproles and McCoy are both excellent runners in the open field, but in different ways and from different places.

At the top, it's worth pointing out that McCoy led NFL running backs with 366 touches last season and ranks No. 1 in offensive snaps per game (54) by running backs over the past four seasons. Sproles, on the other hand, has only 815 offensive touches in his nine-year career. Perhaps Sproles' presence can get McCoy a bit more rest without sacrificing a key threat in their offense.

Second, Sproles proved especially productive in New Orleans when lined up somewhere other than the backfield. His 89 receptions in those situations since 2011 is twice that of the next-closest running back, Marcel Reece (44). Such familiarity with the slot and outside receiving positions give the Eagles a scary potential to use Sproles and McCoy on the field at the same time.

All of this is to say what has seemed obvious from the start: The Eagles and Sproles are an ideal match. It makes perfect sense.

McShay Mock 3.0: Eagles 

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
Todd McShay's third NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today.

The Philadelphia Eagles now seem quite set on the offensive side of the ball, but could go in one of many directions with their first pick to improve their defense. McShay had Darqueze Dennard going to Philadelphia in his previous mock, and the Eagles probably would love that scenario, but overall, taking the best defensive player regardless of position seems like the smartest move for the Eagles. They have set themselves up to get very good value throughout this draft, especially to reinforce their defense.

Whom does McShay have the Eagles drafting at No. 22? Let's take a look at his pick and analysis Insider:

Live blog: Eagles at Vikings

December, 15, 2013
Join our NFL experts as they break down the Philadelphia Eagles' visit to the Minnesota Vikings. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Live blog: Eagles at Packers

November, 10, 2013
Join our NFL experts as they break down the Philadelphia Eagles' visit to the Green Bay Packers. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Live blog: Giants at Eagles

October, 27, 2013
Join our NFL experts as they break down the New York Giants' visit to the Philadelphia Eagles. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Live blog: Eagles at Buccaneers

October, 13, 2013
Join our NFL experts as they break down the Philadelphia Eagles' visit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.
DeSean Jackson and Mike GlennonGetty ImagesDeSean Jackson is on pace for over 1,600 yards, while Mike Glennon is looking for his first win as an NFL starter.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sunday's meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers represents a culture clash of offensive styles.

The Eagles have been making headlines with their fast-paced offense, while the Bucs have been plodding along with a passing offense that ranks No. 32. Eagles team reporter Phil Sheridan and Bucs team reporter Pat Yasinskas discuss the matchup.

Phil Sheridan: Eagles fans are familiar with Bucs coach Greg Schiano through his Rutgers and Penn State connections. Has he been able to hold the locker room together through this Josh Freeman episode?

Pat Yasinskas: It has been a challenge and I guess you could say it remains a work in progress. There have been some reports that some veteran players aren't sold on Schiano's old-school ways. He might be a little overboard with his thoughts on order and discipline. But this was a team that was in disarray when he arrived. The Freeman episode was a major distraction, but it's over now. Schiano needs to take this team and move forward from all the Freeman stuff.

Speaking of coaches who have come from college backgrounds, Chip Kelly fits that profile and his offense has generated a lot of headlines. From a distance, it seems as though Kelly's offense has been up and down. What are your thoughts on whether this offense can be successful in the NFL over the long term?

Sheridan: Talk about a work in progress. We all saw the Eagles burst out of the blocks in that Monday night opener in Washington. We really haven't seen much of the Kelly offense -- uptempo, innovative, aggressive -- since then. The Eagles have the NFL's top rushing offense, but that seems inflated by quarterback Michael Vick's rushing yards as well as defenses' willingness to let the Eagles amass yardage as long as it doesn't translate to a lot of points. Meanwhile, it does seem as though the offense wears down in games after trying to push the tempo early. I'm not sure that means Kelly's scheme won't work in the NFL or if he just doesn't have the personnel to run it.

On that note, it's especially tough on a team when one side of the ball is playing at a high level and the other is struggling. How has the Bucs' defense been able to hold opponents to such low-scoring totals?

Yasinskas: Pitting the defense against the offense is another concern for the Bucs. Their defense has played well, overall, while the offense has struggled mightily. Although no one has griped publicly, I sense that the defensive players are frustrated with the lack of production from the offense. The secondary, the defensive line and the linebackers all have had some very bright moments. But the offense has been dismal. If things continue like they are, it's only a matter of time before there are some ill feelings from the defensive players.

Speaking of the defense, how has Philadelphia's been so far? It seems like all the talk has been about the offense, but we really don't know much about the defense.

Sheridan: Talk about a work in progress -- oops, did I already say that? Kelly hired Bill Davis to install a 3-4 defense with a bunch of new starters (three quarters of the secondary, plus Connor Barwin), or old starters at new positions (Trent Cole, especially). The defense was OK in the opener, terrible for long stretches against San Diego, Kansas City and especially Denver, then OK again against the Giants on Sunday. There are no real playmakers, the kind who keep offensive coordinators up at night, but overall, this group seems to be jelling a bit better. The equation this year always had the offense producing enough points to carry a developing defense. So far, the offense has let down the defense.

Other than he's tall, Mike Glennon is an unknown to people around here. Can he play on this level or do you sense the bigger plan is to get through this season and find a quarterback in the draft?

Yasinskas: The jury is very much out on Glennon. But Schiano has liked Glennon since he tried to recruit him out of high school and would like to make things work. Glennon is the kind of quarterback Schiano likes -- he's a rah-rah, fiery leader (something Freeman was not). Perhaps more importantly, Glennon has the big arm that Schiano covets. Schiano's core offensive philosophy is to run the ball well and take some deep shots with the passing game, so Glennon fits the profile of what Schiano is looking for in a quarterback.

Speaking of quarterbacks fitting in, how much different should we expect Philadelphia's offense to be with Nick Foles playing in place of Vick?

Sheridan: I won't use the work-in-progress joke again because I'm better than that. Kelly swears it is the same offense regardless of who is playing quarterback. That is what we football insiders technically call balderdash. Kelly went with Vick because the veteran still represents a serious threat to run the ball, which in turn gives Kelly's read-option the edge it needs. Foles can move in the pocket and elude a pass rush, but his mobility doesn't translate to 20-yard read-option runs. But he does get the ball out more quickly in a rhythm passing game, so it will be interesting to see if the receivers who haven't been open for Vick -- talking Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and the tight ends -- are more involved if Foles plays.

Live blog: Eagles at Giants

October, 6, 2013
Join our NFL experts as they break down the Philadelphia Eagles' visit to the New York Giants. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.