Philadelphia Eagles: Riley Cooper

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 NFL Nation's Phil Sheridan examines the three biggest issues facing the Philadelphia Eagles heading into training camp.

Can Nick Foles repeat, even improve on, his 2013 success? A year ago, Foles went into camp trailing Michael Vick in the starting quarterback competition that Vick eventually won. After leading the NFL in passer rating, throwing 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions, Foles has a pretty high bar to clear in his first full season as a starter. It is perfectly reasonable to expect Foles to be further from perfect than he was in 2013. But Foles can do that while still being very productive. If he throws a few more interceptions by taking some risks that also produce more touchdowns or big plays, the Eagles can live with that. Foles could even raise his game to an even higher level. It won't be easy, but with a coach like Chip Kelly, it's not out of the question, either. Foles looked very sharp -- accurate and confident -- during June practices. He seems buoyed, not intimidated or cowed, by being the clear No. 1 QB ahead of Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Training camp and the preseason will give everyone a chance to see whether he's making progress or heading toward a major regression. Best guess: Foles will be fine. Not otherworldly, but just fine.

Who will replace DeSean Jackson's production? That became the Eagles' most urgent question after Kelly decided to part ways with the guy who caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Since we have no evidence Kelly is a madman, we have to conclude the coach had reason to believe he could get Jackson's production from other players. Jeremy Maclin was never the big-play guy that Jackson was, but he is a solid receiver who is hugely motivated to prove he can excel after a second ACL tear. Riley Cooper may come back to the pack a bit after his breakout 2013 season, but he also might rise to the occasion after experiencing success. The Eagles' additions are intriguing. Darren Sproles figures to be as versatile and unpredictable under Kelly as he was in New Orleans for Sean Payton. Second-round draft pick Jordan Matthews had people at organized team activities comparing his physique to that of Terrell Owens and could be a star in the future. Meanwhile, tight end Zach Ertz is expected to take that key second-season leap in production and reliability. Would the Eagles have been better with Jackson? Probably. Can they be as successful with strong seasons from Maclin, Sproles, Matthews, Cooper and Ertz? Kelly clearly thinks so.

Did the Eagles do enough to improve their defense? Looked at one way, the answer seems like a big "no." The Eagles didn't go out and sign a star defensive back or draft an elite, quarterback-eating pass-rusher. It would be easier to sell this defense if they had. What the Eagles are counting on is an across-the-board rise in experience and comfort in Bill Davis' defense. That isn't as glittery as marquee free agents or high draft picks, but it may prove to be more reliable than either of those. And there is some foundation for hope. The Eagles' defense really did improve over the course of the 2013 season. It looked a lot better in December than in September, and that is why the Eagles may have more new starters on offense than on defense. The front seven looks like it will be the same as it was at the end of 2013. First-round pick Marcus Smith will play as he proves he's ready, but there is no reason to rush him when Trent Cole is playing as well as he did last season. Malcolm Jenkins is a smart and reliable safety, and that should help the secondary immeasurably. The best guess is the starting cornerbacks return. If not, it will be because Nolan Carroll shows that he is better than one of them.

Overall, the Eagles added a bunch of players who will push last year's starters. If they're better, they'll see the field. If not, it will mean the incumbents have fended off the challenge. Either way, the defense should be better.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles completed their final practice Thursday before a 35-day break leading up to training camp. Here are three things we can take away from the work just concluded.

There is a commitment to improving the special teams play. Last year, of course, was Chip Kelly’s first in the NFL. That meant enormous changes for the Eagles, from the way they train and practice to the styles of offense and defense they play.

It is understandable that Kelly would focus on special teams more after spending a season in the league. The Eagles added Bryan Braman, a linebacker who excelled on special teams in Houston, and cornerbacker Nolan Carroll, an excellent gunner on coverage teams. Safety Chris Maragos was a special teams regular for Seattle last year. Darren Sproles, who will see plenty of time on offense, is a first-rate return man.

Of course, the Eagles also brought in kicker Carey Spear to compete with Alex Henery. But it has already become clear that Henery is way ahead of Spear when it comes to field goals. Ideally, the Eagles would like to see Henery improve his kickoffs, getting closer to the league average for touchbacks.

“The top [kickers] in the league are in the 70s [percentage-wise],” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said. “We’re looking at the 60s as a pretty good number, I think. Alex has been very accurate over his career on field goals, 48 yards or less. There were only two guys who were ahead of him in the National Football League.”

Ultimately, the Eagles are willing to trade some short kickoffs for that acumen on field goals. If Henery can improve a bit on kickoffs, that will help. But so will covering those kickoffs better. That’s where Braman, Carroll, Maragos and Jason Phillips come in. Phillips was added last year as a core special teamer, but tore his ACL in training camp.

Nick Foles has the strongest arm, by far, of the four quarterbacks here. You have to go back to Donovan McNabb’s rookie year, when Koy Detmer and Doug Pederson were in camp, to find as wide a margin between one quarterback and the rest.

In fairness, Mark Sanchez is still on a “pitch count” after surgery to repair his right shoulder last year. Matt Barkley, who was coming back from shoulder surgery last year, does not exactly have a cannon for an arm.

For 15 years of McNabb and Michael Vick, the Eagles always had a quarterback with a high-caliber arm. It may be that arm strength is not as important as other attributes in Kelly’s offense, but the coach says otherwise.

“We focus on everything,” Kelly said. “There's not one thing that we look for and say, ‘You know, he has a quick release but it's OK, he doesn't have a very strong arm.’ I think you want the whole package in terms of what you're looking for. I think it's a combination of how accurate a thrower he is; and I'm not going to say, ‘Hey, I want to take this guy, he can get it out of his hands really quick but he's inaccurate when he throws the football.’ So there's a lot more that goes into it than one thing.”

There looks to be enough speed on offense even with DeSean Jackson gone.

When they were teammates, Jeremy Maclin was the possession receiver while Jackson was the big-play guy. Coming off his second ACL tear, it isn’t reasonable to expect Maclin to become the game-breaking burner that Jackson was. But Maclin has decent speed and still hasn’t played in Kelly’s offense. So it remains to be seen how the coach utilizes Maclin’s skill set.

Sproles and rookies Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff all have very good speed. While Sproles is a running back and not a wide receiver -- something Kelly made a point of emphasizing several times -- he is a guy with a history of making big plays in the passing game. Matthews and Huff will likely contribute more as the season goes on, they become more comfortable and Kelly becomes more familiar with their potential.

Riley Cooper, the other starting wide receiver, got plenty of deep balls thrown to him last year. He benefited from defenses focusing on Jackson, but it looks as if there are enough weapons for Kelly to put strain on defensive coordinators even without Jackson.
PHILADELPHIA – In the aftermath of the Eagles' decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson, there was more speculation than explanation available. That's how wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell got drawn into the conversation.

During a mid-December game in Minnesota, Bicknell and Jackson were seen shouting at each other on the sidelines. It was the kind of scene that plays out every week in the NFL. But when a player gets released just a month after playing in the Pro Bowl, a scene like that suddenly seems more important.

[+] EnlargeBob Bicknell
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images"I never had a problem with DeSean Jackson," Bob Bicknell said. "I enjoyed coaching him."
Like most of coach Chip Kelly's assistants, Bicknell is not available to the media most of the time. All of the assistants talked Monday, so it was the first time Bicknell was asked publicly about Jackson.

“Honestly, I don't remember too much about that [Minnesota] situation,” Bicknell said. “It wasn't something that was carried too long. I think it does happen from time to time [on the sideline].

“I never had a problem with DeSean Jackson. I enjoyed coaching him. I enjoyed the year I had with him. As a coach, you move on so quickly. Once that decision was made, I moved on. I wish him nothing but the best. He did everything I asked him to do.”

Jackson produced career highs in catches (82), yardage (1,332) and touchdowns (nine) in his only season under Bicknell and Kelly. Now it will be Bicknell's task to replace that production without Jackson or slot receiver Jason Avant, who left as a free agent.

“I think it comes from everybody,” Bicknell said. “It comes from everybody being a little bit more comfortable in the offense. We've always had good guys in that [meeting] room. I have great confidence we have a lot of guys in that room who can make plays.”

Riley Cooper returns as one starter. Jeremy Maclin, who tore an ACL in training camp last season, returns to the starting lineup. Draft picks Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff provide different skill sets. Arrelious Benn and Brad Smith are veterans with chances to contend for playing time.

“A lot of guys are fighting for that position now,” Bicknell said. “They're all out there making a lot of plays. Jordan Matthews is a pretty fast guy. Brad Smith is really good with the ball in his hands. I don't look at it like, we can't go deep.”

The Eagles also added running back Darren Sproles, who has excellent speed. He's not in Bicknell's meetings, but he's one more player who will get the chance to help replace what the Eagles got from Jackson.

As for Bicknell, he said he had no issues with Jackson.

“I never had a problem with DeSean,” Bicknell said.
PHILADELPHIA -- We didn't really get many answers from the Philadelphia Eagles' recently concluded organized team activities. Going into next week's mandatory minicamp, though, we know enough to ask somewhat better questions.

Sanchez
Matt Barkley or Mark Sanchez? We know Nick Foles will be the No. 1 quarterback, a major development compared to last year's training camp. But the signing of Sanchez to a one-year deal raised as many questions as it answered.

Sanchez has started 62 NFL games and gone to two AFC title games. He is the most accomplished quarterback in camp, and he's only 27. That makes him unlikely to be content to be the long-term backup for Foles. If Foles fails his acid-test season, Sanchez could be the next man up.

And then there's Barkley, who got into a few games as a rookie. His shoulder is healthy now, and he should get an opportunity to outplay Sanchez for the No. 2 spot. Barkley has the confidence to endure another season as the No. 3 QB, but is that really the ideal situation?

How will the wide receivers line up? At present, Riley Cooper is the only one of last year's top three receivers to be in the mix. If Cooper and Jeremy Maclin wind up on the outside, either rookie Jordan Matthews or veteran Brad Smith could become the slot receiver. Or if Matthews has a great summer, Cooper could move to the slot. He has the size for it.

It will be interesting, too, to see how Chip Kelly uses rookie Josh Huff, the third-round pick from Oregon. The Eagles may not have a receiver with the speed or the Pro Bowl appearances of DeSean Jackson, but they certainly have some talent at the position.

Ertz
How will Kelly use his other offensive weapons? Zach Ertz is going to be on the field. Does that mean Brent Celek, who helped LeSean McCoy lead the NFL in rushing, won't be? Will Kelly use Ertz, rather than a wide receiver, in the slot more often? And what about running back Darren Sproles? What will his role look like?

Earl Wolff or Nate Allen? Malcolm Jenkins will start at one safety spot. Will the Eagles stick with Allen or give Wolff a chance to take a step forward? Allen probably has reached his ceiling. Wolff still has some potential to become a better player. The answer will determine whether the secondary has a chance to be markedly better this season.

What can Marcus Smith do? The first-round pick from Louisville was backing up Connor Barwin in OTAs, but that has more to do with logistics than logic. It is expected Smith will contend for Trent Cole's right outside linebacker job.

The Eagles will be fine with Cole playing a lot this season, as long as Smith develops into a replacement by 2015. But getting some production from Smith in 2014, whether it's from the right or the left side, would be good for everyone.

Alex Henery or Murderleg? Yes, the Eagles signed a rookie free-agent kicker, Carey Spear, with the awesome nickname "Murderleg." No, he's not likely to replace the incumbent.

So let's finish with an answer: Henery. All he needs is a nickname.
PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Maclin got up. The moment of hushed concern passed, and everything shifted back to normal in the Philadelphia Eagles' world. The wide receiver walked off the field as practice ended, reporting his knee was fine.

In that moment, though, much was revealed about the state of this team as it begins Chip Kelly's second season as head coach.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
Matt Rourke/AP PhotoThe Eagles' offense will depend on more players than just wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
The immediate reaction: that another injury to Maclin could be devastating because of his perceived status as the replacement for DeSean Jackson in Kelly's scheme. But in reality, that is not the case and it never was. The Eagles will try to replace Jackson's production with Darren Sproles, with draft picks Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, with second-year tight end Zach Ertz, with Arrelious Benn and, yes, with Maclin.

The Eagles won 10 games and the NFC East title last year without Maclin, who tore an ACL during training camp last summer. The former first-round pick has been a solid starter during his tenure here, but he has not had the kind of impact Jackson had. That's why, when the Eagles released Jackson in March, it was fair to worry that they were expecting too much from Maclin. Not only has he not been the big-play guy Jackson was, but Maclin would now be playing on two surgically reconstructed knees.

But here's the other twist. Any attempt to project Maclin's production based on his performance under Andy Reid is a waste of time. Kelly's scheme turned Riley Cooper, a former fifth-round pick, into a valuable asset and favorite target of quarterback Nick Foles. It will be fascinating to see what Kelly can do with Maclin.

"I was really excited about how he would fit into what we do because of what he can do," Kelly said of Maclin. "And then to lose him that early in camp was disappointing. You got a taste of him. But having him out there full speed, running out there right now, he's doing a really good job."

Maclin has good speed, but not Jackson's speed. So one issue is whether Maclin or someone else can provide enough of a deep threat to create space for LeSean McCoy to run the ball and for the other receivers to work underneath the coverage. The addition of Sproles by trade and of Matthews and Huff in the draft should help there.

But even McCoy wonders. He led the NFL in rushing last season. But McCoy said this week that he would have to see how the offense functions now before he could assess the impact of Jackson's departure.

The suspicion is that Kelly has all of this worked out in his busy mind. It is clear the coach made the decision to release Jackson. He wouldn't have done so without a sound plan for his offense to remain effective. And that is the objective. It isn't about replacing exactly what Jackson did, it's about building a balanced, varied attack with the players who are here.

All of those players stopped suddenly when Maclin went down at the end of Monday's practice. But that's because they were concerned for a teammate who is coming off a serious knee injury. They were not concerned about the fate of their offense. That is in too many hands this season.

Foles: Plenty of offense without Jackson

May, 1, 2014
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Nick Foles prefers to focus on which players will be performing along with him.

Foles misses wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but he's also not a member of the Philadelphia Eagles anymore.

"We'll have guys step up," the Eagles quarterback told CSNPhilly.com. "We have Mac (Jeremy Maclin) back, which is exciting. We'll see what happens in the draft coming up and we also have guys coming in that they've got to step in and make plays. DeSean is a great receiver. He's very talented. He's unique in how he's so fast and can get open and things like that. He's a hard guy to replace, but we'll have someone step in and do a great job in their own way."

Even without Jackson's 82 receptions, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, Foles expects the offense to keep on churning in 2014.

"It's just not going to be No. 10. It's going to be someone else stepping in," Foles said. "We're going to be doing our offense, doing what we do. I expect the same plays we made last year, I expect to run those plays again. Obviously, defenses will be able to study that and come out with a plan, but I expect my receivers to make plays when they're out there."

Riley Cooper and Maclin are the leading returning wide receivers and All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy is also back to guide the offense.

"Coop had a great year and then they couldn't double DeSean," Foles said. "And then if they want to double both guys, well then you got LeSean McCoy running the ball and if I keep it as well we'll get some yards."

Analyzing Kiper Grade A draft: Eagles 

April, 3, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles were active in keeping their own players, such as Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce and Riley Cooper. They were active in signing free agents, such as safety Malcolm Jenkins, and trading for running back Darren Sproles.

But the biggest move was cutting wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who stayed in the NFC East by signing with the Washington Redskins.

In ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's Grade A draft, he plays general manager for the Eagles, not Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly. What would Mel do as GM?

Find out here. Insider

Eagles interested in speedy Mike Evans?

April, 2, 2014
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Evans
Following the controversial decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles appear to be ready to take the next step.

Several reports have stated the Eagles worked out 6-foot-5, 225-pound wide receiver Mike Evans, who caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns for Texas A&M last season.

The Eagles will pick No. 22 overall in the NFL draft's first round, and it would be mildly surprising if they used that pick on a wide receiver.

Losing Jackson means the Eagles are losing their biggest deep threat. But Evans averaged more than 20 yards per catch -- 20.2, to be exact -- for the Aggies.

Without Jackson's 82 receptions, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are Philadelphia's two biggest threats after Jackson. Maclin missed the entire 2013 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, while Cooper stepped up to grab 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. He also accumulated 17.8 yards per catch while becoming a real factor in the red zone.

Evans is intriguing because of his ability to stretch the field, much like Jackson.

Evans not only broke the old record of 1,207 receiving yards set by Ryan Swope in 2011, he shattered it. It was the top mark in the SEC among receivers with 40 or more receptions. In addition, Evans tied the school single-game record with four receiving touchdowns against Auburn. He had 287 yards receiving against Auburn and 279 against Alabama, proving he could elevate his level of play against the top teams.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly recently attended Texas A&M's pro day, which featured Evans and quarterback Johnny Manziel.

There will be a litany of wide receivers available in the draft, but it sure looks as if Kelly is interested in the speedy Evans among others.

“I don't have much to compare it to, but there are some talented players in this draft,” Kelly told the Philadelphia Daily News. “When you talk to people, they say it is more talented than it's been in the past.”

What now for the Eagles at WR?

March, 30, 2014
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When the Philadelphia Eagles signed Riley Cooper to a long-term deal and brought back Jeremy Maclin on a one-year deal earlier this offseason, some took it as one of many signs they were thinking about moving on from DeSean Jackson. They were, and I'd argue that the Darren Sproles trade should have been seen as evidence of same.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly, DeSean Jackson
AP Photo/Matt RourkeWithout DeSean Jackson to stretch the field, Eagles coach Chip Kelly has to find other options and strategies at wide receiver.
On the face of it, the release of Jackson leaves the Eagles precariously thin at wide receiver. Maclin is recovering from a torn ACL that cost him the entire 2013 season, so it's hard to know for sure that he can be counted on. And I don't think it's insulting Cooper to suggest that he benefited from having Jackson on the field with him last year. The 2013 Eagles used Jackson in motion all over the formation, often as bait to force the defense into showing where the coverage was going. And Jackson's rare speed has always led defenses to commit at least some double coverage to him.

That said, Chip Kelly surely has a plan, or more likely many plans, for how to make up for the on-field loss of Jackson. It's easy to imagine Sproles being a part of it. He's not a wide receiver, but he's a running back the Saints used almost exclusively on passing downs and can play some of the roles Jackson played last year when he lined up in the backfield. Sproles can also be split out wide or used in the slot. He does not have Jackson's speed, because no one does, and he's not a candidate to stretch the field deep or draw double coverage. But when the Eagles run those package plays where they force the defense to commit coverage one way before Nick Foles throws the ball, Sproles can be a helpful piece close to the line of scrimmage and can make things happen when he catches the ball in space.

Maclin is a question mark. If healthy, he likely replaces Jackson to the extent that Jackson was used last year on the outside. Maclin used to have elite speed, so we'll see the extent to which the effects of the ACL surgery have changed that. But Kelly surely had specific plans for Maclin last year before Maclin got hurt, so there are elements to the offense involving him that we probably haven't even seen yet.

If Maclin isn't healthy, the Eagles have a major issue. They like Arrelious Benn, whom they acquired last offseason in a trade with Tampa Bay, but he himself is coming off ACL surgery. Damaris Johnson is seen as a potential playmaker in space, but we haven't seen it translate on the field very much yet. And it's worth noting that this year's draft is considered to be an excellent draft for the wide receiver position. The Eagles could find a receiver in the early rounds to add to their stable, and if that guy were to develop quickly, he could be a potential solution as well.

One thing of which I'm sure is that Kelly didn't release Jackson without first considering, in painstaking detail, myriad ways of attempting to replace his production on the field. Kelly does nothing without a plan and extensive preparation. He has created for himself a puzzle that will be more difficult to solve without Jackson than last year's was with him. But he does still have a decent number of good-looking tools at his disposal to help him solve it.

Three Eagles earn an extra $200,000

March, 25, 2014
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On Monday we told you about Jason Kelce earning an extra $259,815.06 in the NFL’s performance-based pay system for 2013, but who else fared well for the Philadelphia Eagles?

The Eagles had 12 players earn an extra six figures, and three players took home at least $200,000.

Riley Cooper, who cashed in like Kelce earlier in the offseason before free agency began, earned $200,888.51. Cornerback Brandon Boykin will receive $200,066.98.

Here are the remaining nine players to pick up at least $100,000:

Cedric Thornton -- $183,641.36
Earl Wolff -- $171,790.21
Nick Foles -- $147,297.47
Bennie Logan -- $138,403.79
Mychal Kendricks -- $129,491.49
Nate Allen -- $125,011.54
Connor Barwin -- $120,826.65
Roc Carmichael -- $115,258.03
Najee Goode -- $113,627.02

The system is designed to compensate players who outperformed their contract based on playing time. There is a catch: players do not receive the money until 2016.

In case you were wondering who received the smallest check: Curtis Marsh at $1,247.91.

Click here for the full list.
So far the Philadelphia Eagles have re-signed key their own players, such as Jason Kelce, Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin and Nate Allen, and added pieces like Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll.

They have not, however, added any pieces to help the pass rush.

[+] EnlargeTrent Cole
AP Photo/Michael PerezTrent Cole led the Eagles in sacks last season, but the team's pass rush could use reinforcements.
The Eagles recorded 37 sacks in 2013, which ranked 20th in the NFL. Trent Cole led the team with eight sacks. Connor Barwin had five and three players -- DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry -- had four apiece.


"It's hard to find pass rushers, especially on the open market," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in this Philadelphia Daily News story. "There aren't a lot of teams letting them go. And then you look at the draft and where those guys go, they go high.

"Certainly, you want to continue to add pass rushers. But we feel we have some guys we think can rush the passer and fit what we're doing at the outside linebacker position."

Philadelphia had interest in DeMarcus Ware, and the Cowboys were not keen on possibly seeing their all-time leader in sacks twice a year, but the Denver Broncos swooped in with an offer Ware could not refuse ($20 million guaranteed).

In free agency, Shaun Phillips has 3-4 experience from his time with the San Diego Chargers, but the pickings are thin.

As the Eagles move into their second year in the 3-4 scheme, they will have a better feel for what they want in an outside linebacker. Projecting a college defensive end to outside linebacker in a 3-4 is never easy, but it is something the Pittsburgh Steelers have excelled at for years.

The two best in this year's draft, Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr, figure to be gone by the time the Eagles pick in the first round.

In a division with quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III, finding pass rushers is more important than pass defenders.
The Philadelphia Eagles need a backup quarterback. Mark Sanchez needs a new place to restart his career.

With ESPN Insider Chris Mortenson reporting Sanchez is expected to sign with the Eagles, it brings together two sides filling a major need.

Sanchez
Nick Foles is without question the Eagles' starter. He threw 27 touchdown passes and had just two interceptions while compiling an 8-2 record in 2013. But with Michael Vick off to the New York Jets and Matt Barkley an unknown, coach Chip Kelly is dipping into the Pac-12 quarterbacks again.

Kelly was Oregon's offensive coordinator when Sanchez played at Southern Cal.

We will now get to see if he can revitalize Sanchez.

Things started so well for Sanchez with the Jets. He helped New York and Rex Ryan to two straight AFC Championship Games, losing to Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, but he never made the next step in his career.

His best statistical year came in 2011, when he threw for 3,474 yards with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, but the Jets lost their final three games and that was the end of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Tony Sparano did not help Sanchez in 2012. A shoulder injury kept Sanchez out last year.

Provided the shoulder checks out, Sanchez will become the backup to Foles.

Kelly's first order of business is lifting Sanchez's accuracy. He is a 55.1 percent passer for his career. The best he has had in his career is 56.7 percent. In today's NFL with the rules the way they are, quarterbacks must complete about 65 percent to be effective.

With the Eagles, Sanchez would have better tools around him, especially on the offensive line. He could have DeSean Jackson at wide receiver, at least for a minute. He would have Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper to go with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz at tight end. And of course he would have LeSean McCoy.

He would also have Kelly, who has won with different kinds of quarterbacks along his stops at New Hampshire, Oregon and last year with the Eagles.

The Eagles are not the ground-and-pound of the Jets in Sanchez's first two years, but Kelly will run the ball to control the game and his quarterback.

Sanchez would be going to a perfect spot without the pressure to be the Sanch-ise. All he would need to be is a backup, not a savior.
We got so many good questions and comments, we broke the Twitter mailbag up into two sections. Thanks very much to everyone who chimed in. Here's Part 2: 

Free-agency primer: Eagles

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: QB Michael Vick, WR Jason Avant, S Nate Allen, P Donnie Jones, S Kurt Coleman.

Where they stand: By keeping wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin off the market, the Eagles assured their starting offense would look very much as it did in 2013. There are no obvious positions of need on that side of the ball that would likely be addressed in free agency. The defensive side is another matter. That unit made fine progress in its first year with coordinator Bill Davis’ 3-4 scheme, but the Eagles need playmakers there, especially in the secondary. Having $20-25 million in salary-cap space gives them the flexibility to do whatever they choose.

What to expect: GM Howie Roseman has repeatedly said he does not want to overpay in free agency, but the Eagles might have to go that route with a safety like Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward or Chris Clemons. Going for bargains at that position just has not worked, and Roseman has acknowledged he doesn’t want to get to the draft in dire need of a safety. There isn’t a lot of depth at outside linebacker -- teams do their best to hold on to effective pass-rushers -- but Roseman could look for a second-tier guy there. It would not be surprising if the Eagles re-signed Jones and added a kicker in free agency to compete with, or flat-out replace, Alex Henery. Keep an eye on a return man, perhaps Devin Hester or Dexter McCluster.
It is probably inevitable, as the Philadelphia Eagles rebound from the disappointing end of the Andy Reid era. The players who won’t be around when Chip Kelly’s program peaks aren’t going to be highly coveted elsewhere in the league.

That is the impression you get when looking through Bill Polian’s Free Agent Tracker Insider on ESPN Insider. The longtime NFL executive, along with NFL Insider analysts Gary Horton, Matt Williamson and Field Yates, graded the players headed for the open market. The soon-to-be former Eagles didn’t exactly make the dean’s list.

Quarterback Michael Vick rates only a C-plus and this comment: “The offseason market for Vick will require a perfect system fit. He brings with him age and injury concerns, but if you're a team like Jacksonville or a team with a rookie QB coming out of the 2014 draft, he's a free agent who could buy time as a starter. He could also be a fit as a backup for a team like San Francisco or Seattle, where he could replicate some of the athletic traits possessed by Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.”

Funny to see Vick described as someone who can “replicate” the athleticism and mobility that he helped pioneer in the league. The lackluster evaluation makes you wonder if Vick will get that starting opportunity he covets.

Safety Nate Allen received a grade of C: “Allen is a free safety who is best suited for the box. He shows good instincts and awareness, and he is tough against the run and in underneath coverage. He lacks range over the top, however.”

Allen is rated as “neutral” for all four categories rated -- speed, production, injury and character.

Defensive end Clifton Geathers was rated as “neutral” for all four as well. Geathers also got a C from Polian: “Geathers possesses a long body and good first-step quickness. His length allows him to be a good pass-rusher, but he doesn't have the explosive quickness of the top pass-rushers, nor the explosive run leverage of a power player. He's kind of a tweener but can be a good, solid backup.”

Sounds right, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles bring Geathers back once the market settles a bit.

Polian slapped D grades on safeties Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman, as well as punter Donnie Jones. The grade on Jones is understandable if it is based on his entire career. Jones punted very well for the Eagles last year and could be signed to a new contract as soon as the new league year starts on Monday.

The highest-graded Eagles? Wide receivers Riley Cooper (B) and Jeremy Maclin (B-minus), who signed new contracts with the team last week. Maclin’s grade was clearly lower because he’s coming off a serious knee injury.

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