Philadelphia Eagles: Najee Goode

PHILADELPHIA -- When we left off looking at the Eagles position by position Friday, we were talking about the in-transition nature of the outside linebackers.

The inside linebacker situation would seem more settled based on the 2013 season. DeMeco Ryans was exactly the leader a team needs in the middle of its defense, and Mychal Kendricks developed into arguably the most dynamic playmaker on that side of the ball.

With glaring needs in the secondary and at edge pass-rusher, that would make the inside linebacker spots appear less than pressing. So it was surprising that the Eagles' personnel people and coaches spent so much time talking to inside linebackers during Senior Bowl activities – as documented by Jimmy Kempski of

Kempski noted four inside linebackers among the 14 players the Eagles showed special interest in. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have interest in other players. With the scouting combine later this month, and with pro days and the chance to bring players to Philadelphia for visits, the Eagles will certainly talk to dozens of potential picks before the draft.

Still, the interest in inside linebackers is itself interesting. According to Kempski, the Eagles talked to LSU’s Lamin Barrow, Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Illinois’ Jonathan Brown and Florida State’s Christian Jones.

Ryans is due to make $6.9 million this year. I’ve always believed it’s a bad idea for teams to ask important players to take pay cuts for a number of reasons. It’s bad for morale, it undermines a player’s ability to be a leader in a locker room where salary and stature are connected and it erodes every player’s confidence in the team’s commitment to the contracts it negotiates.

In this case, Ryans' contract was negotiated in Houston, before he was traded to Philadelphia. That eliminates one of those considerations. If general manager Howie Roseman can pitch a restructuring that helps the salary cap without hurting Ryans too much, then fine.

The larger question is whether, despite the Pro Bowl lobbying from defensive coordinator Bill Davis, the Eagles feel they need more impact from Ryans’ spot. At the very least, they may want to start grooming a young successor for Ryans, who turns 30 before the season.

There are other possibilities, though. After a season in his scheme, Davis may think Kendricks could be effective on the outside, for example. He’s a good pass-rusher and would be better at dropping into coverage than Trent Cole or Brandon Graham.

A relatively high draft pick at an inside spot could allow Kendricks to move outside while simultaneously developing into an eventual replacement for Ryans.

The counterargument there is that Kendricks spent his rookie season on the outside in the Eagles’ 4-3 scheme. Moving him inside for a year and then back outside would negate the considerable progress he made during the 2013 season.

Maybe it’s all just this simple: Roseman’s approach is to take the best player on the Eagles’ draft board regardless of position. If that player is an inside linebacker, then you take him and figure out exactly how to use him and the incumbent linebackers later.

Behind Ryans and Kendricks, the Eagles have a couple of special-teams guys in Casey Matthews and Jake Knott. Najee Goode showed promise playing in relief of Kendricks. Jason Phillips, signed for depth and special-teams prowess, tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire season.

Bottom line: Assembling a deep group of versatile, athletic linebackers couldn’t hurt.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles' injury report contained mixed news for Sunday night's game against the Chicago Bears.

Safeties Kurt Coleman (hamstring) and Colt Anderson (knee) are out. That has more impact on the Eagles' special teams than their defense. Both players are key members of the kicking and return teams.

The defense will be helped by the likely return of safety Earl Wolff, who is listed as probable after missing five games with a knee injury. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion, was also listed as probable.

That gives defensive coordinator Bill Davis close to a full complement of defensive backs as he tries to cope with the Bears' array of receiving options. Chicago likes to use wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the slot a fair percentage of the time.

"They look for him," Boykin said. "I plan on being matched up with him quite a bit."

Although the Eagles have faced Denver's group, Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, Boykin said he thought the Bears' Marshall and Alshon Jeffery presented the biggest overall challenge to the secondary.

"You're talking about guys that are 6-3, 6-4 and they're both playing at a very, very high level," Boykin said. "Normally, you might have two big guys, but one of them is better than the other. I don't think that's the case. They can throw to either one of them."

"Whenever the quarterback throws the ball in the air," Wolff said, "they go and get it. Those are the big plays we're going to have to stop. I feel like we're up for the challenge."

Wolff may be eased back into action after missing so much time. Patrick Chung could start and play a fair amount.

"I feel like I came in this week in a groove more than I was last week," Wolff said. "Last week, I was still kind of trying to get back into it. Now I feel like I'm pretty much back to where I was before."

As for special teams, the Eagles are likely to have linebacker Najee Goode back from his hamstring injury. He was also listed as questionable. Keelan Johnson, a safety signed off the practice squad earlier in the week, could also be active and help fill in for Coleman and Anderson.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (knee) and wide receiver/special teamer Brad Smith (hamstring) were also listed as questionable.

Wolff doubtful, two other DBs probable

December, 13, 2013
PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Eagles safety Earl Wolff practiced throughout the week, leading to hope the rookie would be able to play Sunday at Minnesota.

Wolff was listed as doubtful on Friday’s official injury report, however, making his return from a knee injury unlikely. Veteran Patrick Chung would continue to start in Wolff’s place.

Wolff said he would travel with the team to Minneapolis and make a final determination Sunday.

The Eagles’ secondary was surprisingly overrepresented on the week’s otherwise sparse injury report. Cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (hip) and Cary Williams (hamstring) both appeared without warning during the week. Boykin was on the first report Wednesday, suggesting he was hurt in Sunday’s game against Detroit.

Williams appeared for the first time Thursday. He and Boykin were listed as probable Friday and are expected to play.

The Eagles have been practicing indoors on artificial turf all week, which could contribute to minor soreness and leg injuries.

The only other Eagle on the injury report, linebacker and special teamer Najee Goode, was also listed as doubtful. Goode pulled a hamstring two weeks ago against Arizona.
PHILADELPHIA -- Sports science, blocking schemes, dome teams, Winston Churchill -- you just don't know what you're going to get when you go to a Chip Kelly news conference.

The Philadelphia Eagles coach addressed a few issues and made a few observations a day after his team's snowy 34-20 victory over Detroit.

Fight them on the beaches. "The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but no less difficult." Kelly (fairly accurately) quoted Churchill in explaining how he approaches game tape after a win.

"There's always lessons you can learn," Kelly said. "Shame on you if you don't look back and analyze what happened and what were the positives and what can you take from it. But I also think you have to take what did we do wrong and how can we continue to execute? When you have a big win, sometimes it's well, we made a couple mistakes but don't worry about it. We've never been that way."

As an example, Kelly cited a LeSean McCoy run. McCoy broke the franchise record with 217 rushing yards in the game, but the tape showed room for improvement.

"LeSean could have had a 70-yard run," Kelly said. "He cut back and got tackled by (Ndamukong) Suh and a defensive lineman. If he had broken to his left, he could have had another (touchdown). Those are things we'll continue to work on."

Taking advice. While it's not unusual for a player to make a suggestion on the sideline, it's unusual for Kelly to take the suggestion as seriously as he took cornerback Cary Williams' advice to throw deep Sunday.

"I've had a lot of players come up and suggest a lot of things," Kelly said. "You just have to be smart enough to know which ones to listen to. Trust me, I don't think I've ever had a receiver that's ever been covered.

"It's an amazing phenomenon: 'I'm wide open!' 'I know you're wide open because the ball went over there and the entire defense went over there. That's why you're standing by yourself. Now if you were blocking like you were supposed to be, you wouldn't be open, because it was a run play.'"

Williams suggested taking some deep shots in the passing game. If he was having trouble recovering from moves made by Calvin Johnson, Williams reasoned, the Lions' secondary would be similarly vulnerable. Kelly responded by calling for that 44-yard pass from Nick Foles to Riley Cooper, which kickstarted the Eagles' comeback.

"Cary's one of the guys on this team, he's all football," Kelly said. "He's a student of the game. He's got a great football mind. He made a really valid point. You can run by these guys because they can't transition, because he can't transition. I've had a lot of guys make suggestions. I'll listen to Cary because Cary really understands the game."

Avant guard. Wide receiver Jason Avant also understands the game. Kelly listened to him, too.

"One of the unsung heroes yesterday -- I don't even think he had a pass thrown to him -- was Jason Avant," Kelly said. "You watch the block he threw on LeSean's (57-yard touchdown) where he took the safety back into the free safety. That's the type of team we have. Jason's on the sideline asking me, 'Can we run the ball my way?' I don't know how many wide receivers in this league are asking to have the ball run their way."

Watching the play on tape, Avant's block was the one that turned a 20-yard run into a touchdown. As McCoy bursts through the middle of the Eagles' line, Avant drove Bill Bentley back into Louis Delmas. Bentley went down in a cloud of snow. Delmas was knocked off balance. By the time he turned and got his footing, McCoy was beyond him. Delmas dove helplessly at McCoy's feet.

Already iced. The Eagles had zero injuries reported after the game. Whether that was luck, the players getting ice treatment every time they hit the ground or the lack of traction keeping joints from twisting, it's impossible to say.

Kelly said rookie safety Earl Wolff (knee) is expected to try to practice this week. Wolff has been inactive since getting hurt in the Green Bay game. Linebacker Najee Goode (hamstring) is the only other Eagle expected on the injury report.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles will be without safety Earl Wolff again for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. Wolff (knee) and linebacker/special-teamer Najee Goode (hamstring) were both officially listed as out on the team's Friday injury report.

Defensive end Clifton Geathers' status is unknown. Geathers missed the past three days' worth of practices for unspecified personal reasons. The 6-foot-8, 340-pound Geathers has been on the field for 21 percent of the team's defensive plays this season.

Wolff will miss his third game after injuring his right knee in Green Bay last month. Veteran Patrick Chung, who has made as much impact crashing into teammates as opponents, will start in Wolff's place.

With Goode out, linebacker Emmanuel Acho has a chance to be active.

Wide receiver Jeff Maehl cleared the concussion protocol and was listed as probable. Tight end Zach Ertz (shoulder), defensive tackle Bennie Logan (neck) and defensive end Damion Square (back) were also listed as probable.

The Eagles have enjoyed good health all season. Coach Chip Kelly said the other day that it might be attributable to a combination of luck and the team's devotion to sports science.

“You break a bone, you break a bone,” Kelly said. “I don't know if there is a science behind breaking a bone. There are certain injuries that it doesn't matter how fit you are, how trained you are, that if that happens, that happens. But I also think there are some little things we do on a weekly basis here from a training standpoint that I think has benefited us. So we'll continue. But it's not something that we can say if all of a sudden two or three guys get hurt next week you're like, ‘You guys are wrong.' It's not. I think we're doing the right thing.”

Eagles without three defensive starters

November, 17, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles will be without three injured defensive starters in Sunday's game against Washington.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and rookie safety Earl Wolff are inactive after injuring knees in last week's game in Green Bay. Najee Goode will start at Kendricks' inside linebacker spot. It will be worth watching to see if he is used to shadow Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, as Kendricks likely would have been. Veteran Patrick Chung, who began the season in the starting lineup, will play in place of Wolff.

Cornerback Bradley Fletcher will miss his second game after injuring a pectoral muscle in Oakland two weeks ago. Fletcher missed a game earlier in the season with a concussion. Roc Carmichael will start in his place. Carmichael played well last week. Fletcher's absence has a domino effect, however. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis had Cary Williams in single coverage more often against the Packers, and that made him a bit of a target.

Left tackle Jason Peters, who has a number of nagging injuries including quadriceps and pectoral injuries, is active and will start.

Eagles could be without four starters

November, 15, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- Three Philadelphia Eagles starters, not counting quarterback Michael Vick, are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Washington.

Left tackle Jason Peters has been playing with a list of nicks, led by quadriceps and pectoral muscle injuries. It wouldn’t be surprising if he played, but the Eagles could also choose to sit him out this week and give him an extra week of rest with the bye week looming. Allen Barbre, who played well in relief of Peters last week, would start if Peters can’t go.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (knee) seemed like a long shot to play. The questionable status, which signifies a 50-percent chance to play, is actually more positive than expected. Najee Goode would play in place of Kendricks, who would otherwise be the leading candidate to shadow Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (pectoral) was questionable last week as well, and did not play in Green Bay. Roc Carmichael filled in for him.

As expected, safety Earl Wolff (hyperextended right knee) is out. Patrick Chung, the starter going into the season, will step back into the lineup. Linebacker/special teamer Jake Knott is also out with a hamstring injury.

Chung (shoulder), defensive end Cedric Thornton (knee), tight end Brent Celek (hip), and wide receiver Riley Cooper (knee) were listed as probable.
PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles could be without half their starting secondary when they face Washington and Robert Griffin III.

Safety Earl Wolff is listed as week-to-week with a hyperextended knee. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who injured a pectoral two weeks ago in Oakland, has been practicing but is still experiencing soreness and weakness in the muscle. In addition, inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks is expected to be out with a knee injury.

“It’s tough,” Wolff said. “I’ve never missed a game in my life, ever. I’ve been playing football since third grade and I’ve never missed a game. So it’s a different experience. Pretty tough.”

The bad news would be considerably worse if the Eagles hadn’t already gotten solid play from their replacements.

Patrick Chung was the starter at safety going into the season. Wolff replaced him when Chung injured his shoulder in a Sept. 19 game against Kansas City. Chung tried to come back after two weeks, reinjured the shoulder and missed the next two games.

Chung is back. He played three quarters in Green Bay Sunday after Wolff banged knees with Packers running back Eddie Lacy.

“He made a couple of nice tackles with that shoulder,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “We don't foresee it being a recurring problem. I think it's in the rearview window for Patrick.”

Linebacker Najee Goode would likely start in place of Kendricks. He also delivered three solid quarters of play against the Packers.

Fletcher was listed as questionable on the Friday injury report. He said Tuesday that he was originally told the injury would likely keep him out two weeks. So there’s a chance Fletcher could be inactive even though he practiced Wednesday.

Davis went with Roc Carmichael, the third-year player signed off the Houston Texans’ practice squad in September. That allowed Brandon Boykin to remain in his role as the slot corner.

“I need Boykin to be a great nickel,” Davis said, “and I felt and we feel as a staff that it lessens his ability to play nickel if he's playing corner and nickel every down both inside and outside. Some guys can do it in the NFL, and I just believe right now for Boykin to be the best nickel we have because I need a dominant nickel in there for all the third downs and two minutes and it was better for us putting Roc outside. I think it did work out. Boykin had a great game as a nickel, and I think Roc played a nice job outside at corner.”

Boykin was playing nickel corner when he intercepted Griffin in the Sept. 9 game between these teams.

That was a different Griffin, however.

“When we played them the first time, he was coming off the injury,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “He didn’t get any live reps. He’s a lot different now. It’s a big challenge for us. He’s running around a lot more. He’s throwing the ball really well. We expect a little bit different look.”

Najee Goode better than his last drop

November, 13, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- John Goode spent two easily overlooked seasons in the NFL, one in St. Louis and one with the Philadelphia Eagles.

His son, Najee Goode, is a young linebacker preparing to make his first NFL start. That he is doing it in Philadelphia, the city where his father spent a season, is both coincidental and instructional.

"He told me to embrace everything in the city," Najee Goode said Tuesday. "The fans take the game to a different altitude. People may say they boo and this and that, but they support the team. That's why it's a great place to play. I can already tell, the fans are up and at it. You see them on Twitter, you see them on Facebook, all the social media. It's great."

Goode replaced Mychal Kendricks Sunday in Green Bay after the second-year, star-in-the-making went out with a knee injury. Goode acquitted himself well. He blitzed effectively and played well in the run game.

"Right after I got in," Goode said, "it was like the third or fourth play, I was able to slash in and hit Eddie Lacy in the backfield. It was kind of a statement play: I was going to be here all game."

Goode is likely to start against Washington Sunday. Kendricks was the defensive player most likely to be assigned to spying quarterback Robert Griffin III, just as he did against Oakland's Terrelle Pryor. It's a big challenge.

"You're starting, now what can you do with it," Goode said.

His most memorable play in Green Bay was a near miss. Goode stepped in front of a Scott Tolzien pass with nothing but the end zone in front of him. He dropped the interception.

That was catnip to his father, the former tight end. Turns out the two Goodes maintain a competitive aspect to their relationship.

"I must have had Vaseline on my hands," Goode said. "I'll get it next time."

The play was Najee's comeuppance, in a sense. He recovered an errant snap for a touchdown against the Giants. That gave him one more touchdown than his father managed in his own brief NFL career.

"As soon as I got back to the house," Najee Goode said, "I called him and told him I had him, 1-0. We got drafted in the same round, he just got drafted three picks before I did. So he always talked crap about that. My dad always kept a healthy competition going between me and him."

If the touchdown gave Najee the advantage, that dropped pick-six brought the karmic wheel all the way around.

"I used to play offense in high school and everything," Goode said. "After that, my dad told me never to try to play offense again."

He laughed. His father's career is in the books. Najee's is just beginning. He may have the last laugh yet.

Upon Further Review: Eagles Week 10

November, 11, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Taking a look at four storylines from the Philadelphia Eagles' 27-13 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Nick Foles is flirting with history. Foles has thrown 16 touchdown passes this season without an interception. That would've tied the NFL record set in 1960 by Milt Plum, except that Peyton Manning already broke that 53-year-old mark this season. Manning threw 20 touchdowns before throwing a pick.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesNick Foles has thrown 10 touchdown passes and no picks in the Eagles' past two games.
What's even more compelling is that Foles isn't being extra cautious. In fact, his receivers say that he's trusting them and throwing the ball out where they can get it. That raises the degree of difficulty on the no-pick streak.

“Nick does a great job protecting the football,” coach Chip Kelly said. “He hasn't thrown an interception. He doesn't really make egregious mistakes. If he misses, he may not be as accurate on the throw. He's got a good grasp and command of what we're doing.”

Foles put two strong games together. After his rough outing against Dallas, Foles needed to prove he could be consistent. Check that box.

His numbers in the past two games combined: 34-of-46 (73.9 percent) for 634 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Foles has a passer rating of 155.3 for the two games.

“We just have to keep moving, but I felt good out there,” Foles said. “Receivers were making some good plays and helping me out.”

Does that mean he will be the starting quarterback if Michael Vick is healthy? It's a question Kelly won't answer. Until Vick is 100 percent, it's a question Kelly doesn't have to answer.

Tempo works both ways. The Eagles have done a better job maintaining Kelly's high-tempo offense. But in some ways, their ability to run a slow-it-down offense has been just as important at times. In the fourth quarters of wins in Tampa Bay and Green Bay, the Eagles drained the clock by methodically running the ball.

“You're in a game, it's a couple-score game,” Kelly said. “Even if we did turn the ball back over, hopefully there's not a lot of time left on the clock. Everybody knew what was happening. Everybody knew we were running it. It's something to build upon. We feel comfortable it's something we're getting better with.”

LeSean McCoy ran the ball nine times for 50 yards in the Eagles' last drive, which took up the final 9:32 of the game. Foles ran for a first down. Bryce Brown mixed in a couple of runs for 11 yards.

“That's what championship teams have to be able to do,” wide receiver Riley Cooper said.

The Ouch Department was extra busy. The Eagles went into the game without starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who injured a pectoral muscle last week. They lost two more defensive starters, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and safety Earl Wolff, plus offensive tackle Jason Peters -- all in the first half.

“I think it speaks a lot about the depth,” Kelly said. “You have to have it. It's a tough, hard-nosed, physical game and everybody needs to be ready to play at any point in time. I thought the guys that stepped up and came in did a really nice job.”

Cornerback Roc Carmichael, linebacker Najee Goode and safety Patrick Chung helped the defense hold the Packers to 13 points. Allen Barbre replaced Peters at left tackle.

Locker Room Buzz: Philadelphia Eagles

November, 10, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Seen and heard in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker room after their 27-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Chip Kelly has a better winning percentage at Lambeau than Vince Lombardi: OK, so Kelly has coached just one game here while Lombardi went 32-7-1 on this field. Still, it was another new experience for the rookie NFL head coach.

“Special place,” Kelly said. “It’s one of the iconic places in football. The fans were really, really good. Most of the time when we come in on a bus, we don’t have people clapping for us. I think it says something about the fans here in Green Bay, they’re just big fans of the game. There’s so much history. That was the same field Vince Lombardi coached on. I think that’s pretty neat. It’s a lot neater when you win.”

It’s OK to be lucky as well as good: Nick Foles caught breaks on his first two touchdown passes. The first was deflected by a Packers defensive back and floated into the hands of DeSean Jackson. “You have to stay with the play,” Jackson said. “He didn’t catch it and I did.”

The second was underthrown. Riley Cooper saw it. The two defensive backs covering him didn’t. Cooper circled back, caught the ball at the 1-yard line and rolled into the end zone. “A few guys told me it looked like a baseball play,” said Cooper, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies before deciding to play football at Florida. “In baseball, you have a glove to block the sun. Here I didn’t.”

It’s better to be Goode than lucky: Linebacker Najee Goode played mostly on special teams before inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks left with a knee injury in the first quarter. Goode had an eventful game, blitzing Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien a couple times and almost getting his first career interception.

“I got to get some Jugs [radar gun],” Goode said. “I was playing aggressive on the tight end, just trying to beat him up on the line of scrimmage and then breaking on the ball. Adrenaline is moving so fast. I probably should have calmed down to catch that ball.”

Rapid Reaction: Philadelphia Eagles

November, 10, 2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Observations on the Philadelphia Eagles' 27-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

What it means: The Eagles are 5-5, are in contention in a weak NFC East and seem to have a legitimate quarterback in Nick Foles. A week after throwing seven touchdowns in Oakland, Foles threw for three at Lambeau Field. For the season, he has thrown 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. That was the NFL record for 53 years until Peyton Manning broke it this season. The victory also means the Eagles have some luck on their side. The Packers, already without Aaron Rodgers, lost second-team quarterback Seneca Wallace in the first quarter. Scott Tolzien made his NFL debut. The Eagles have wins against Mike Glennon, Terrelle Pryor and Tolzien this year.

Body count: Both teams were afflicted by injuries. The Eagles lost three starters: Left tackle Jason Peters went out twice, once to be evaluated for a concussion and once with a knee injury. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and safety Earl Wolff left with knee injuries. Allen Barbre replaced Peters and did a solid job protecting Foles’ blind side. Veteran Patrick Chung replaced Wolff. Najee Goode took Kendricks’ inside linebacker spot and was used a couple of times to blitz Tolzien.

Stock Watch: Riley Cooper -- Rising fast. After catching three of Foles’ record-tying seven touchdown throws last week, Cooper caught two more against the Packers. The first was a fluky 45-yard play. Foles underthrew the ball. Cooper saw it and circled back under it as two Packers defenders overran the play. At the end of the third quarter, Cooper shook safety Morgan Burnett and was wide-open on a corner route for a 32-yard score.

What’s next: The Eagles’ 10-game home losing streak is on the line as NFC East rival Washington comes to Lincoln Financial Field. Although they’re 0-4 there under Chip Kelly, a win would keep them in contention in the division race as they go into their bye week. The Eagles, who are 5-1 on the road, opened the season with a 33-27 win at Washington.

Upon Further Review: Eagles Week 8

October, 28, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- Taking a look at four pressing issues a day after the Philadelphia Eagles’ 15-7 loss to the New York Giants.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
AP Photo/Matt RourkePhiladelphia's offense has been woeful the past two weeks with Matt Barkley at quarterback.
Maybe QB Matt Barkley should practice with the first team this week. As coach Chip Kelly acknowledged in his weekly appearance on 94.1 WIP FM Monday morning, Michael Vick is almost certainly out for next week. Nick Foles has not yet been cleared by doctors to resume practicing. Even if Foles does get clearance through the concussion protocol, Kelly may want to make sure Barkley is better prepared than he was for his last two unplanned relief appearances.

“I think it is valuable just to practice with those guys and see their timing and know their breaks in a full-speed environment,” Barkley said. “Routes versus air is one thing, but to be able to get reps in team periods and seven-on-seven, I think it will be valuable.”

Unless, of course, the Eagles can convince the Raiders to cover DeSean Jackson with air instead of a defender.

Jackson’s history might have worked against him Sunday. There was booing after he let a punt skip off his fingers and go out of bounds deep in Eagles territory. Eagles fans are all too aware that Jackson has admitted to letting outside issues, like his contract, affect his commitment on the field.

But this just seemed to be a punt that was carried by the wind.

“The punter punted it pretty far,” Jackson said. “It was one of those things where he outkicked me. It was over my head and the wind took it.”

LeSean McCoy took the blame again. The running back said, “I didn’t show up” for the game against Dallas last week, when clearly there were a lot of problems with the running game. McCoy vowed Sunday’s game against the Giants would be different.

He gained 48 yards on 15 carries. McCoy remains the NFL’s rushing leader with 733 yards, but all that talk about his early pace seems like ancient history. After three weeks and 395 yards, McCoy was on pace for more than 2,100 rushing yards. He’s now on pace for 1,466 and trending sharply downward.

“It starts with me,” McCoy said. “I feel like, coming into the game, we want to establish the run. Teams know that. It starts with me. I have to get out there and get it going.”

The last two games may be reality. The previous two might have been misleading.

The Eagles got to 3-3 with consecutive road wins against the Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That had Kelly’s team feeling like it was on the right track, with a chance to assume control of the NFC East with home games against Dallas and New York.

The Eagles are 0-2 with zero offensive touchdowns in those games. While there is plenty to chew on in explaining their offensive futility, it may be worth a second look at the Eagles’ wins. The first came in the season opener at Washington, against a rusty Robert Griffin III and a defense with no game tape of Kelly’s offense to study. The next two came against teams that were winless when the Eagles played them.

It’s totally understandable for the Eagles to lose against exceptional teams like Kansas City and Denver, who are a combined 15-1. The losses to similarly flawed teams like San Diego, Dallas and the Giants suggest that the Eagles just aren’t good enough to be called average.

Najee Goode outscored his father. John Goode played in 30 NFL games as a tight end with the Eagles and the St. Louis Cardinals. He never scored a touchdown.

Goode’s son Najee, a linebacker and special teams mainstay for the Eagles, recovered an errant long snap Sunday to score the Eagles’ only touchdown of the game -- and the Goode family’s only NFL touchdown as well.

“I was just going to go hit him,” Goode said, referring to Giants punter Steve Weatherford's inept pursuit of Zak DeOssie's bad snap. “I was going to knock the mess out of him to get the ball into the end zone. Then the ball came through and I saw it and my eyes got big and I scooped it up.”

Goode found the end zone, something the Eagles' offense has failed to do for the past eight quarters.
PHILADELPHIA -- When he was developing his freewheeling, risk-taking reputation as a head coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly was used to having the best team on the field every Saturday. That tends to help make your decisions turn out the way you planned.

With the Philadelphia Eagles, Kelly’s decisions have been run through the shredder of his players’ limitations. Sunday’s 15-7 loss to the New York Giants was a feast for second-guessers (and even first-guessers).

• We’ll go light on the play call on first-and-goal at the 2-yard line late in the first half. Play calls are usually all about execution. If Matt Barkley ran the play exactly as designed, the Eagles may well have scored a touchdown on that possession.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley and Terrell Thomas
AP Photo/Michael PerezTerrell Thomas forced a Matt Barkley fumble on first-and-goal from the 2, squashing an Eagles scoring opportunity.
“It’s a play we’ve run,” Kelly said. “We talked about it. If we don’t have [an open receiver], let’s throw it away and we’ll go next time.”

There was no next time because Barkley held the ball long enough for Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas to run him down and knock it out of his hands. The turnover ruined the Eagles’ best chance at an offensive score.

Kelly’s explanation makes sense. He should have a better feel for a rookie quarterback in that situation. Barkley isn’t used to the speed of the NFL game in new situations, and that was a new situation.

• On fourth-and-10 in the third quarter, ball at the New York 32, Kelly went for a first down.

Last week, he went for a 60-yard field goal late in the first half against Dallas. That baffling decision gave the Cowboys a chance to take a deep shot at the end zone. Tony Romo's pass went through Dez Bryant's hands and was intercepted by Earl Wolff.

This time, it would have been a 49-yard attempt for Alex Henery, or a chance for Donnie Jones to pin the Giants deep with a punt.

“There was wind,” Kelly said. “That was a tough wind. That’s why we went for it on fourth down there. [Special-teams coach Dave Fipp] said we need to get a little bit closer in that situation.”

Barkley fumbled the snap, picked up the ball and fired it over the head of Jason Avant, turning the ball over on downs.

• On fourth-and-4 at midfield in the fourth quarter, down 15-0, Kelly punted.

“It was a two-score game,” Kelly said. “So I knew we were going to stop them. I have great confidence in our defense. I wish they stopped them on the first third down. We felt like we were going to get the ball back with time to score and get an onside kick.”

The Giants held the ball for 3 minutes, 16 seconds before punting it back. The Eagles got the ball again and found themselves in a fourth-and-20 situation at the Giants' 46. This time, Kelly went for it and Barkley completed a 5-yard pass.

• After Najee Goode recovered an errant snap for the Eagles’ only score of the game, making it 15-7 with 4:11 left, Kelly opted for an onside kick. This doesn’t quite line up with the previous reasoning about having faith in his defense.

“I only had one timeout,” Kelly said, “so it didn’t matter if we kicked it deep. It was still the same amount of time on the clock. We felt like if we could get it at that point in time, that was my decision. In terms of time off the clock is going to be the same exact thing.”

But field position would not be the same. Giving the Giants the ball at their own 20 with a timeout and the two-minute warning to stop the clock gives you a shot at decent field position with a defensive stop. Giving the Giants the ball at midfield means game over.

And that, of course, is exactly what happened.

Rapid Reaction: Philadelphia Eagles

October, 27, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- Quick thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' 15-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

What it means: The Eagles reached the midway point of their schedule with a mess at quarterback, a now-epic home losing streak and some legitimate doubts about coach Chip Kelly’s offense. Michael Vick was hobbled and ineffective after missing two games with a hamstring injury. He left in the second quarter. Rookie Matt Barkley replaced him and fumbled the ball away on his first possession. Going back to last week’s three-interception outing against Dallas, that made four consecutive drives with turnovers to begin Barkley’s NFL career. The Eagles are 3-5. They are 0-4 at home, extending their franchise-record losing streak at the Linc to 10 games.

Stock Watch: Falling -- Chip Kelly. Last week, ESPN Stats & Information dug deep to find out the last time a Kelly-coached team failed to score in the first half. There wasn’t any digging needed this week. The Eagles were scoreless through three quarters against the Dallas Cowboys, and touchdown-less throughout. They were scoreless through three quarters against the Giants. Soon, it’s going to take research to figure out the last time a Kelly team scored a first-half touchdown. The Eagles' only score came on special teams, when Najee Goode recovered a ball snapped over the head of Giants punter Steve Weatherford. It seems like a long time since the Eagles’ flashy debut at Washington.

Strange decisions: Kelly made a couple of doozies. After replacing Vick, Barkley ran a smooth two-minute drive down to the Giants’ 2-yard line. With the NFL’s leading rusher on the field, Kelly called a play that required his right-handed rookie quarterback to roll out to his left. Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas ran Barkley down from behind and tomahawked the ball. Jacquian Williams recovered for the Giants. On the first possession of the second half, the Eagles faced fourth-and-10 at the New York 32. Instead of trying a 49- or 50-yard field goal to cut the score to 12-3, Kelly went for it. Barkley fumbled the shotgun snap, then overthrew Jason Avant to give the Giants the ball. Last week, Kelly went for a 60-yard field goal on fourth-and-inches late in the first half.

What’s next: Brett Favre's phone could ring again. OK, probably not, but much depends on how quickly Nick Foles is cleared to play according to the NFL’s concussion protocol. After trying to play on his sore hamstring this week, it seems unlikely Vick will be back in the mix this week. If neither can go, Barkley would at least have the benefit of preparing with the first team all week. Either G.J. Kinne would have to be brought on to the active roster, or the Eagles will need to find another veteran backup on the street. I wonder how Donovan McNabb is feeling.