NFC South: Philadelphia Eagles

Live blog: Eagles at Buccaneers

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
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Join our ESPN.com 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.

ESPN.com 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.
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Falcons' Dirk Koetter a hot name

December, 31, 2012
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The Atlanta Falcons' offensive success during a 13-3 season could come at a price.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will interview with the Kansas City Chiefs for their head-coaching vacancy, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The Falcons already have granted the Chiefs permission to talk to Koetter and the interview reportedly will take place Tuesday.

There also is a report that Koetter will interview for the vacancy with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cleveland Browns are also reportedly interested in Koetter.

Assistants on playoff teams with a bye can interview for jobs as head coaches this week.

This isn’t a huge surprise because Koetter was expected to be one of the "hot" names this offseason. He’s had success as a coordinator and has been a head coach on the college level.

Koetter joined the Falcons this season after Mike Mularkey left to become the head coach in Jacksonville.

Rapid Reaction: Saints 28, Eagles 13

November, 5, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS -- Some quick thoughts on New Orleans Saints' 28-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on "Monday Night Football."

What it means: After starting 0-4, the Saints have won three of their past four games and sit at 3-5 and in third place in the NFC South, well behind the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons. The season isn’t over for New Orleans, but with the way its defense is playing, it will be hard-pressed to go on a run.

For the reeling Eagles, this was their fourth straight loss and fifth in their past six games after starting the season 2-0. They now sit at 3-5, tied with the Dallas Cowboys for second place in the NFC East behind the 6-3 New York Giants. This certainly isn’t what Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie had in mind. He said before the season started that a second consecutive 8-8 finish would be grounds to fire Andy Reid after his 14th season. The Eagles will have to finish at worst 6-2 to avoid a .500 record, and even that might not be good enough.

So what becomes of Reid? NFL owners don’t like to get embarrassed on national television, and that’s what happened to the Eagles, who got behind early -- again -- and couldn’t keep up with a Saints offense that can put points on the board. The Eagles trailed 21-3 at halftime. They showed signs of life in the third quarter with a strip sack that led to a 77-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to DeSean Jackson followed by a forced fumble on the ensuing kickoff.

But one of the Eagles' chronic problems continued. They couldn’t score touchdowns in the red zone. Five appearances led to two field goals. Vick also threw a pick-six when a pass bounced off Brent Celek's fingertips and was returned 98 yards by Patrick Robinson for a touchdown that gave New Orleans a 7-0 lead.

As ugly as it’s going to be in Philadelphia this week, where acute apathy has set in, I’d be shocked -- shocked -- if Lurie fired Reid midseason under any circumstances. That’s not how Lurie operates. But it certainly seems like Lurie will be looking for a new coach in January.

Saints defense holds: The Saints had been historically bad coming into the game this season. They had given up consecutive 500-yard games and had allowed at least 400 yards of offense in all seven games. They ranked 30th in scoring, 32nd in total yards allowed, 30th in passing yards allowed and 31st in rushing yards allowed.

While New Orleans allowed LeSean McCoy to gain 119 yards, 101 of those yards came on 13 first-half carries. They held the Eagles to 13 points even though they entered the game giving up 30.9 per game. They sacked Vick seven times and forced three turnovers.

Yes, they ended up giving up 400 yards in garbage time, meaningless yards that only padded losing statistics. The Saints have plenty of work to do on defense, but they made headway on Monday.

Eagles lose another lineman: The Philadelphia offensive line has taken a beating this season, and against New Orleans the Eagles were forced to play the majority of the game without right tackle Todd Herremans, who injured his right ankle/foot late in the first quarter.

Herremans is the fourth starter on the offensive line to miss time with an injury, which is one of the major reasons the Eagles have struggled this season.

Saints' streaks continue: New Orleans has not lost a November game since falling to Tampa Bay on Nov. 30, 2008, a streak of 12 straight games. They’ve now won 14 of their past 15 games in November. They’ve also won eight straight games on Monday night.

What’s next: The Eagles return home to an environment in Philadelphia that will be toxic, and they will host the Cowboys on Sunday. The Saints host the undefeated Falcons.

Video: Predictions -- Eagles-Saints

November, 3, 2012
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The NFL Live crew makes their picks for the Philadelphia Eagles at the New Orleans Saints.

Video: AccuScore -- Eagles-Saints

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
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Cary Chow goes inside the numbers for the Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints.
Michael TurnerKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesMichael Turner averaged 5.4 yards a carry as he finished with 21 carries and a score.
ATLANTA -- Talk all you want about how the Atlanta Falcons should go to the no-huddle offense or how they should throw down the field more often.

There may be some truth to both theories. But when it comes to the real core of the Atlanta offense, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind. Don’t ever forget that the real backbone of this offense is Michael Turner and the running game.

If you want proof, just look at a couple of crucial plays in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 35-31 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Georgia Dome.

Although there was a lot of hype about quarterbacks Michael Vick and Matt Ryan going head to head for the first time, they didn’t decide the game. Turner might have been the guy who did that.

With Philadelphia leading 31-28 with 7 minutes, 54 seconds remaining and Atlanta holding the ball at its 13-yard line, Turner broke off a 61-yard run. Five plays later he plunged in for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Falcons the lead for good.

“Matt might like to think we’re a passing team and [receiver] Roddy [White] will definitely tell you we’re a passing team,’’ fullback Ovie Mughelli said. “But Michael and I will tell you we’re a running team, and tonight shows that. Really, they go hand in hand. You’ve got to be able to run and you’ve got to be able to pass. Call us either one, but call us a happy team because we were a winning team tonight.’’

Vick left the game with a concussion in the third quarter and didn’t return. Ryan, whose performance was rocky at times earlier in the game, took control once the Falcons went to the no-huddle offense in the fourth quarter after falling behind 31-21. Ryan finished with a career-best four touchdown passes, but the Falcons wouldn’t have won this game without Turner.

His long run put Philadelphia’s defense, which spent a fortune on free agents in the offseason, on its heels. His touchdown also was the difference on the scoreboard.

Turner carried 21 times for 114 yards. It marked the 21st time since he joined the Falcons in 2008 that Turner has rushed for 100 or more yards.

“That’s one of the top defensive lines in the league,’’ Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We just kept scratching where we were going and we finally busted one open.’’

The long run came on a trap play and Smith’s right when he says the Falcons worked all night to set it up.

“I was a spectator on the sidelines for that play,’’ Mughelli said. “But the coaches were all saying, 'This could be the one. This could be the one where he breaks it.' We’d been looking at the photos of our plays all game long and you could just see that one was going to break open at some point. We were close on it a whole bunch of times. We’d just miss a block or two here and there. We finally put all those blocks together and Mike was able to break it.’’

Turner’s play came immediately after the Falcons had another of his runs wiped out by a holding penalty on Joe Hawley. The Falcons (1-1) were already in the no-huddle offense, and it would have been easy to grow impatient and just abandon the running game. They could have just put the game in Ryan’s hands, but they didn’t.

That’s partly because Ryan calls the shots when the Falcons run the no-huddle offense and he liked what he saw.

“We got the look we wanted,’’ Ryan said. “That was a huge play in turning the field position and getting us on a roll.’’

It has often been suggested by fans and media that the Falcons should go with the no-huddle offense more often or maybe even all of the time. It also has been suggested that the Falcons should allow Ryan to throw downfield more often, especially now that he’s got rookie receiver Julio Jones to go with White.

But there weren’t a lot of downfield passes to those two against the Eagles, who have cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel. White had three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. Jones had two catches for 29 yards.

Yeah, things seemed to go a little better once the Falcons went to the no-huddle offense, but offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey isn’t going to be out of a job anytime soon.

“No, no, no, no,’’ Ryan said when asked if he should call the plays from now on. “Mike does a great job for us, and that’s for sure.’’

Ryan finished with only 195 total passing yards while completing 17 of 28 passes. His main target was tight end Tony Gonzalez. At this stage of his career, Gonzalez isn’t really a downfield threat. He caught seven passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including a spectacular one-handed grab in the back of the end zone.

There will be times this season when the Falcons aren’t playing two marquee cornerbacks or aren’t playing against a Cover 2 defense like Chicago’s in a season-opening loss. In those situations, the Falcons may finally get to the downfield passing they’ve talked so much about.

There might be some other games where they go with the no-huddle offense earlier if they think it will help with tempo and matchups. This offense is a work in progress and things will go back and forth throughout the season.

But one thing will always hold true. Turner and the running game need to be at the heart of things if this offense is going to thrive.

Falcons shake up secondary

September, 18, 2011
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ATLANTA -- Very quietly, the Falcons have made a major change to their secondary.

James Sanders, a veteran who was acquired during the preseason, got the start at safety in place of Thomas DeCoud. The team didn’t list DeCoud on the injury report this week and had a rough outing in the opener against Chicago.

He missed at least one tackle and struggled in coverage. The Falcons became concerned about DeCoud’s progress during the preseason and that’s why they went out and signed Sanders.

The Falcons also opened in the nickel package with a new nickel back. Kelvin Hayden, another veteran signed in the preseason, was in that spot in place of Christopher Owens.

Inactives for the Falcons

September, 18, 2011
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ATLANTA -- We just got the Falcons’ inactives for Sunday night and there are no major surprises.

Two injured starters, defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and center Todd McClure, are both out, as expected. Joe Hawley will start for McClure and Peria Jerry for Babineaux.

The other inactives for the Falcons are cornerback Darrin Walls, running back Antone Smith, linebacker Spencer Adkins, offensive lineman Mike Johnson and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

Michael Vick, Arthur Blank share hug

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
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ATLANTA -- There was just a very interesting moment in the Georgia Dome, but not many people saw it because the gates just opened and fans are starting to stream in.

But Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick was on the field (in shorts and a t-shirt) throwing some passes to his receivers. Falcons owner Arthur Blank suddenly appeared behind Vick, his former quarterback.

Although his arm was already in motion to throw a pass, Vick saw Blank and suddenly stopped. He threw his arms open and he and Blank embraced. They then chatted for a few moments and it was evident both men were in good spirits.

Live from the Georgia Dome

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
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ATLANTA -- I just got settled into the Georgia Dome and want to apologize for some technical problems that prevented items from posting on all the blogs. But it looks like things are appearing now and let’s hope that continues.

Anyway, it’s very quiet in here right now, but that’s only because the gates have yet to open. There are a few players out on the field loosening up.

But it was a pretty interesting scene as I drove into the stadium. Quite a few Eagles’ fans out there and quite a few fans wearing jerseys from Michael Vick’s Atlanta days.

I’ll be back with the inactives about 90 minutes before kickoff and will jump in with any other developments as they come.

Falcons have found balance since Vick

September, 15, 2011
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Michael Vick Jan-Michael Stump/US PresswireMichael Vick, who played with the Falcons for six seasons, is returning to Atlanta on Sunday.

This is a story about the present and the future. So let’s get rid of the past right at the start.

“No, that’s not my house,’’ Michael Vick said on a conference call with the Atlanta media Wednesday. “That’s Matt Ryan’s house. I’m just a visitor.’’

When Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles face Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night, the game will be about two teams mentioned as Super Bowl contenders playing a crucial early-season game. Yeah, there may be a few memories -- pleasant and unpleasant -- in the Georgia Dome, but they'll be off in the distance.

The past is gone. We all know about Vick’s downfall in Atlanta. But in NFL years, that time now is ancient history. Vick went to prison for running a dog-fighting ring and came out and redeemed himself quite nicely in Philadelphia. That’s the glamorous story line, but there’s another one at play here as well.

The Falcons also moved forward quite nicely and quite quickly. With three consecutive winning seasons, they’re in better shape than the franchise ever has been. Forget an ugly season-opening loss in Chicago for a second and it looks like there should be many more good times in Atlanta for the foreseeable future.

When Vick was going through his legal troubles and coach Bobby Petrino was walking out on the team in 2007, many predicted it would take years for the Falcons to recover. It didn’t.

That’s largely because an entire organization learned from its mistakes and added multiple pieces that quickly brought stability that should last for a long time. If you spend any time around the Falcons, you immediately get the sense this is a grounded, well-balanced franchise with everyone in the building working toward a common goal.

[+] EnlargeAtlanta coach Mike Smith
Mike DiNovo/US PRESSWIREMike Smith is the only coach in Falcons history to have four straight winning seasons.
It wasn’t that way during the Vick and Petrino days, and it certainly wasn’t there when Vick was playing for Jim Mora, a coach whose up-and-down emotions had the franchise on a perpetual roller coaster. It wasn’t even there in Vick’s early years when Dan Reeves was the coach, Vick was struggling with an extremely complicated offense and Reeves wasn't exactly sure how to use his uniquely talented quarterback.

Throughout Vick’s tenure there were moments of brilliance, but the Falcons were up and down the entire time. They never put together back-to-back winning seasons with Vick. In franchise history, they never put together back-to-back winning seasons until current coach Mike Smith’s first two years.

That’s no coincidence, because Smith epitomizes what the current Falcons are all about. In his first team meeting, Smith told his players, "We’re moving forward. We need to forget the past."

But it goes even deeper than Smith. In the aftermath of the Petrino and Vick disasters, team owner Arthur Blank did a lot of soul searching. He realized the Falcons put all their eggs in one basket with Vick. It was his face you saw on billboards all over town and in television commercials. When the guy you made the sole face of your franchise crashes and burns, you’ve got no one else to pick up the pieces -- on or off the field.

That’s when Blank realized his franchise needed more of a team concept. He started by hiring general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who came from New England, the capital city of the team concept.

When Dimitroff began interviewing coaching candidates, he quickly became enamored with Smith, a low-profile assistant in Jacksonville. Smith kept talking about the importance of a team and having good chemistry. He also talked a lot about having a long-term plan for sustained success. It also didn’t hurt that Smith, who can get a little excited on the sideline on game days, has as calm and balanced a demeanor as you’re going to find the rest of the time.

He quickly was hired.

The next thing Smith and Dimitroff did was draft Ryan to replace Vick. Again, they were looking for balance in addition to physical skills.

On the day before the draft, the top prospects were doing a media session in New York. Dimitroff, already pretty sure he was going to take the quarterback from Boston College, called a team employee who was at the event and asked for a scouting report on Ryan. He didn't want to talk football. Instead, he asked what Ryan’s demeanor was like with the media.

“Now, I see why they call him 'Matty Ice,'" the team employee said.

With that, Dimitroff signed off because he knew he had the kind of calm quarterback he wanted. Ryan won right away and displayed an uncommon work ethic. He has the coaches fax him the game plan each Tuesday because he wants to be ahead of the game when practices start on Wednesday. Since he's been in Philadelphia, Vick has said multiple times that he regrets not working harder at the game in his Atlanta years.

But Ryan’s just a part of a team that looks like it should be good for the next decade or so. Dimitroff’s a former scout and he can assess physical skills with the best of them, but he’s built the Falcons around more than physical talent.

Dimitroff looks for certain personality traits when assembling the roster. He looks for guys who put the team and winning above all else. That’s why draft picks like linebackers Curtis Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon, free-agent pickup Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez, who came in a trade, have fit in so nicely.

The Falcons saw the same thing in receiver Julio Jones, for whom they traded up 21 spots in this year’s draft, and they saw it in third-round linebacker Akeem Dent, and they'll continue to look for it in the future. They’ll sprinkle in a free agent who fits that same profile here and there, but this team is made up mostly of guys drafted by Smith and Dimitroff and that’s a reason the Falcons should stay good for a long time.

Sustained success is what Dimitroff and Smith want. It’s also what Blank wants. The Falcons lived on highs and lows during the Vick years, and even in the franchise’s long history before that. That’s all in the past now.

The Falcons have changed for the better. They’re operating on a nice, even keel, which might be precisely the reason they’re winning and expect it to continue.

Wrap-up: Eagles 33, Buccaneers 14

October, 11, 2009
10/11/09
4:29
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas



I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Johnson in his first two NFL starts.

He’s shown a live arm, some running ability and some intangibles. He’s also shown signs of being a late-round draft pick who is still very early in his career development. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say the Bucs have found their backup quarterback of the future.

Yes, backup.

There have been no miracles since Johnson took over. The Bucs are still a bad team. They have no running game, receivers drop passes and the defense isn’t very good. Johnson’s been far from Tampa Bay’s biggest problem, but he’s not going to stay in the lineup much longer.

It’s just logical. The Bucs are 0-5 and there really haven’t been any signs of progress. Raheem Morris has some time because the Bucs don’t want to fire a coach they just hired. But 0-16 or 1-15 without any signs of hope is enough to get any coach fired.

Morris had a plan when he took this job and it’s got to start showing through just a little bit. The Bucs are a very young team and they’re going to get younger before too long. Morris started his regime by drafting quarterback Josh Freeman.

The Bucs want to bring the rookie along slowly, but that’s going to change. Johnson will keep starting for now, but the Bucs play New England in London on Oct. 25. They’ve got a bye week after that before hosting Green Bay on Nov. 8.

That seems like a logical time to start the Freeman era.

Video: Buccaneers-Eagles preview

October, 5, 2009
10/05/09
11:32
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ESPN's KC Joyner breaks down the keys to the Tampa Bay-Philadelphia game.

More on the undefeated Saints

September, 20, 2009
9/20/09
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


I’m trying to spread it around the NFC South as much as possible when I can only be in one place at one time.

I don’t want to sell the 2-0 Saints short on a day when they scored a huge victory against Philadelphia -- in Philadelphia. I’m not scheduled to see the Saints in person until they host the New York Jets in a couple of weeks.

That’s why I’ll refer you to colleague Jeffri Chadiha and his column from the Saints’ victory Sunday.

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