Tag Archives: Brandon Boykin

Go Ahead and Open Up the Mock Drafts Now

The clock has stuck midnight. The fat lady has sung. Insert your preferable cultural reference here.

An Eagles season that had so much promise as recently as 14 days ago is now over.

They will end the season with a better record than at least one of the 12 teams in the playoffs and maybe more, but unlike an exhilarating end to the 2013 season, there will be no January this time around, no NFC East title, no home playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.

A big reason why the Eagles suffered this fate is because aside from the Colts, Cowboys, and maybe the Panthers, they couldn’t beat teams that have qualified for the playoffs often enough.

In some of those contests like the Packers and Seahawks game, they were outclassed. In others like the Cardinals, one or two fluke plays could have easily swung things and made a difference in the season.

Meaningless regular season football really sucks. We thankfully have not had much of it in the past decade, but for the second time in three years, there will be a Week 17 game at the Meadowlands with little to directly play for.

Perhaps in ways the repetitive location is fitting in this instance. It was only two short years ago that a 4-12 team quit on their soon to be ex-head coach Andy Reid in an embarrassing 42-7 loss to the Giants to cap off a lost season.

For all Reid did for this franchise, he left the roster mostly in shambles. There was a running back, a couple wide receivers, and some injured offensive linemen, but depth at any position was hard to come by. The defense was devoid of homegrown talent, and the secondary was (and mostly still is) a complete wasteland.

Between an offensive genius taking the NFL by storm, career years from LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, historically good quarterback play from Nick Foles, a draft class that provided immediate impact in the form of Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, and Bennie Logan, and an offensive line staying healthy for all 16 games, the Eagles were able to go from 4-12 to a 10-win team that nearly knocked off Drew Brees in the playoffs.

Billy Davis, a defensive coordinator with a spotty track record and much to prove, took a jumbled collection of noodles and ketchup and made a presentable Italian meal out of it.

Everything clicked and were it not for a bad kicker and a fluke return, the Eagles may have well reached the NFC Championship Game in Chip Kelly’s first season.

Many of those aforementioned things did not click this season. Jackson is wearing a different uniform. McCoy, while still very productive, was far from the player who won the rushing title last season. Nick Foles threw more interceptions and got hurt. When Foles was healthy, the offensive line was not as the quarterback would constantly fear pressure playing behind backups and end up retreating and throwing off his back foot immediately after taking a snap.

Outside of Jordan Matthews, this year’s draft produced little impact. Josh Huff provided one of the most electric moments of the season but made a ton of rookie mistakes in the process. First round pick Marcus Smith cannot play. While the jury remains out, there is little indication to think Jaylen Watkins and Taylor Hart can at the moment.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the way to expedite the process in the NFL is to draft well. Years of bad drafting under the Reid regime eventually caught up with the team. In 2012, they started to reverse course some, but too many dysfunctional issues overshadowed a strong rookie class in Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Brandon Boykin, Foles, and Bryce Brown. It wasn’t enough to save their jobs, but it was progress.

Kelly and Howie Roseman continued that progress in 2013 but took a big step back this past May by bungling their first round pick in a talent rich draft, fumbling the best chance they had to inject talent onto an improving but still semi-flawed roster.

With a little bit of luck and mostly really solid coaching, the Eagles have gone from a punching bag to a decent team in two years but remain a couple notches below some of the NFL elite who will be playing in January.

Key decisions will be made before May, and some holes will be plugged in free agency. For better or for worse, we will be blogging throughout those periods, but the way to keep building Rome, the way to prevent three consecutive losses in December, will be to nail the May portion of the offseason and prevent a repeat of what took place in 2014.

We are more than five months away, but go ahead, unfortunately. Open up the mock drafts.

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Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score When Eagles-Packers Concludes

In less than three hours, the Eagles will try to do something that no NFL team has done in more than two years — Beat the Packers in a regular season game at Lambeau Field when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback.

The Eagles of course left Lambeau with a 27-13 victory last November, but playing against Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien does not quite compare with facing one of the greatest signal-callers on the planet.

Still, despite many folks predicting a Packers win today, understandably so, I believe the Eagles will be in the game late and could steal a big one if a few things fall into place.

Here are five numbers that I believe could key a win in Lambeau for the second straight year:

  1. Less than 80 receiving yards for Jordy Nelson — Randall Cobb is great. He has scored touchdowns in six consecutive games and eight of nine contests on the year, but the Packers receiver who really scares me is Nelson. I think Brandon Boykin should be able to match up with Cobb, but defending the 6-foot-3 Nelson poses a mismatch. If Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher can rise to the occasion and do it, it would go a long way toward an Eagles win.
  2. At least one interception thrown by Aaron Rodgers — Should this happen, it will mark the first time since December 2, 2012 that the Packers quarterback will have thrown an interception at home. Rodgers on the season has only thrown three picks versus 25 touchdown passes — a Nicky Foles 2013 esque ratio right there. The Packers are 0-2 in the two games where he has been intercepted though. Force him to do something that he has not done in nearly two calendar years, and I will feel much better about the Eagles chances. Some credit for this stat goes to Andrew Porter, who pointed it out earlier this week.
  3. Three or more three and outs from the Packers offense — Turnovers are great, but Rodgers won’t commit many of them, so the Eagles defense will need another way to keep the Packers dangerous offense off the field, and the most efficient method is forcing a punt after three plays. The Eagles defense played pretty well in losses to the 49ers and Cardinals but seemed to tire late from being on the field a lot. I’m not a big time of possession guy, but keeping Rodgers watching from the sideline as often as possible would be nice today.
  4. Mark Sanchez completing no less than 60 percent of his passes — Sanchez was very good last Monday night, but the one area where the revitalized quarterback seemed to struggle a bit was with his accuracy, going 20-for-37 and completing less than 55 percent of his passes. Sanchez was off target to some open receivers at times. Against a struggling Panthers team, that was okay, but it could hurt today if he has to keep up with Rodgers in a shootout. Improved accuracy — even just by a small margin — could go a long way in keeping Chip Kelly’s offense rolling in the cold.
  5. More than seven receptions by Jordan Matthews — We like watching Jordan Matthews catch passes. Mark Sanchez likes throwing passes to the Eagles rookie receiver. Matthews announced his presence in a big way six days ago with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns on nine total targets. Matching that yardage total could be difficult, but a similarly productive game would be awesome.

Other factors including getting my dude Zach Ertz more involved in the passing game and an improved running game will be impactful as well, but these are the big things that jump out.

You will notice a lot about the Eagles defense in today’s post. It’s a big day not just for the unit, but for Billy Davis career wise in my opinion. If the Eagles defensive coordinator wants to run his own show one day, he has a serious chance to impress today.

Buckle Up, dawgies, ought to be a wild afternoon.

Five Eagles-Giants Numbers That I Would Like to See Around Midnight

Ah, another edition of Eagles-Giants Sunday Night Football is upon us.

Following two 1 p.m. kicks against the NFC East rival last season, it is nice to be back in primetime again. After all, this was an annual thing from 2007-2012 before a brief hiatus in 2013.

The Eagles are winners of the last four Sunday Night matchups against the Giants going back to December 2009, but getting to five may be tougher than originally expected. The birds are sitting somewhat pretty at 4-1 but have not looked great doing it and enter the highly anticipated contest with a depleted offensive line and banged up linebacker core.

After losing to Drew Stanton at home to fall to 0-2, the Giants have gone from the brink of disaster to winners of three straight. They are confident, and in a way, the game may be more important to them. The Eagles will at worst go into their bye week 4-2, but Tom Coughlin’s squad travels to face the surprising Cowboys next Sunday and then follow that up with a stretch against the Colts, Seahawks, and Niners after their bye.

A lot is at work, but if the Eagles win, they will be in excellent shape in a shockingly decent NFC East regardless of how this Seahawks-Cowboys game ends.

Here are five numbers that I believe could lead to a big home victory tonight:

  1. At least two Eli Manning interceptions — In the Eagles most recent five wins in this rivalry, Manning has thrown nine total interceptions. He looks like a reborn man under new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but part of the reason I am picking the Eagles is because I’m banking on a couple key second half turnovers (and subsequent Manning faces). You hearing this, Malcolm Jenkins?
  2. Less than 60 yards for Victor Cruz — Since becoming a part of this rivalry in 2011, Cruz has averaged 90.5 yards per game and turned in five touchdowns in six contests. When he plays well against the Eagles, the Giants seem to play pretty well against the Eagles. It will be up to Brandon Boykin to stop that from happening tonight.
  3. More than 70 yards for Zach Ertz — After racing out to an insane start through two games, Ertz has been pretty quiet as of late. He has not totaled more than four receptions or more than 43 yards over his most recent three games and even had a costly fumble against the 49ers two weeks ago. I think him exploiting the Giants linebackers could be key to jumpstart Nicky Foles and the Eagles offense should they go stagnant at some point. The stars come out on Sunday Night. Do the damn thing, my dude.
  4. A minimum of six carries for Darren Sproles — In Week 1 against the Jaguars, Sproles carried the rock 11 times for 71 yards. Since then, he has received only 14 carries. If the Eagles are going to make a deep January run, LeSean McCoy will need to find his 2013 self at some point, but right now, they need to win a key divisional game, and Sproles is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He needs to touch the ball. Please, Chip.
  5. One special teams or defensive touchdown from the Eagles — The Eagles have scored at least one special teams touchdown in their last three games and at least one defensive touchdown in past two games. Conventional wisdom would suggest that has to end at some point, right? Yes, but maybe not tonight as there is some history here. DeSean Jackson comes to mind, but the Eagles also scored in this matchup last season at Lincoln Financial Field when Najee Goode swooped up a muffed punt. Goode is injured and Jackson is obviously not here, but Sproles is here, and so is special teams ace Chris Maragos. Keeping the streak alive one more week would go a long way toward keeping the Giants out of a first place tie in the division.

There you have it. We got two, 60, 70, six, one, and hopefully a big W to head into the bye week at 5-1.

Take it away, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

You the Real MVP, Eagles Special Teams

Between Nick Foles, Jeremy Maclin, Zach Ertz, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin, there are no shortage of offensive and defensive contributors to credit for the Eagles come from behind victory yesterday against the Jaguars, but it may not have been possible without the performance of the special teams unit.

The Eagles lost seven contests last season, and special teams were a big factor in at least four of them with the Chargers, Chiefs, Vikings, and Saints game all coming to mind. Yesterday, Dave Fipp’s unit helped swing momentum and steal one.

We already have spent a ton of time talking about how Cody Parkey was awesome. I have no idea what this kid is going to turn into, but counting the preseason finale, he is now 5-for-5 on field goals with three longer than 50 yards.

The 51-yard kick to tie the score in the fourth quarter looked like it would have been good from 55 or 56. His kickoffs were also insane.

Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18

Before Parkey stole the show though, there was Brandon Bair, blocking a Josh Scobee 36-yard field goal attempt that the Jags kicker likely makes 98 out of 100 times as long as he gets it off. At the time, it would have put the Jaguars up 20-0.

But wait, there’s more! Darren Sproles averaged 15.5 yards on punt returns. We knew this already, but Donnie Jones was just ridiculous. He had six punts, and five of them pinned the Jaguars inside their own 20. One landed at the Jacksonville one on a great special teams play by Brandon Boykin, and the only punt not inside the Jaguars 20 was attempted from the Eagles own 12.

Here is Jones’ day in chart form:

Punt Number Ball Spotted Before Punt Ball Spotted After Punt Net Yards
1 Eagles 37 Jaguars 11 52
2 Jaguars 40 Jaguars 11 39
3 Eagles 12 Jaguars 47 41
4 Jaguars 39 Jaguars 9 30
5 Jaguars 49 Jaguars 10 39
6 Jaguars 44 Jaguars 15 29

On four of those kicks in Jaguars territory, Jones didn’t have a ton of margin for error, and still got the job done. The Jaguars only scored three points off of Jones’ punts as the other 14 were the result of Eagles turnovers.

Perhaps it will not be smooth sailing for 17 weeks, but when the worst thing you can say about the special teams is Darren Sproles calling for a fair catch when he had room to run, things went pretty damn well.

Hey, Eagles special teams:

Real MVP

Predicting the Eagles Record Game-By-Game

I am a little surprised I am doing this only because this exercise rarely holds up in a couple of months.

It does not so much matter where a team’s wins are from over the course of the regular season as long as they are there after Week 17. Injuries and several other variables can throw things out of whack.

At the beginning of last season, I would have told you that the Eagles would beat Dallas at home but lose to Green Bay on the road two weeks later. Nick Foles getting hurt against the Cowboys, and Aaron Rodgers not playing against the birds obviously changed that. The Eagles still split those two games, but how they did it was the contrast to what I expected.

Still, this is a fun thing to do and evaluate, so we’re going to play win-loss with the Eagles schedule starting with this Sunday against Jacksonville and going through the season finale at MetLife Stadium against the Giants.

Let’s get to it:

Jaguars Logo

Win:¬†This one reminds me of the 2008 opener where the Eagles just steamrolled an awful Rams team at Lincoln Financial Field. Nicky Foles, Shady McCoy, and Zach Ertz pick up right where they left off as Chip Kelly’s offense soars and Billy Davis’ defense gains confidence.

Colts Logo

Loss — I nearly gave the Eagles a road victory here, but I think the Colts take this one as Adam Vinatieri ends a Monday Night shootout with a game-winning field goal. Foles and Andrew Luck go back and forth all game, but the Colts need one this more after falling to the Broncos this Sunday. They find a way to get it done.

Redskins Logo

Win — DeSean Jackson catches a meaningless touchdown in the fourth quarter, but 70,000 at Lincoln Financial Field have already belted out the Eagles fight song four times. Kelly continues to own Jim Haslett’s defenses as the birds get back over .500.

Niners Logo

Win — Back in 2011, the 49ers went into Lincoln Financial Field in Game 4 and stunned an ill-prepared Eagles team with a one-point win. That Eagles team ended up not being very good, but the Eagles will turn the tables here and leave northern California riding high with a 3-1 record.

Rams Logo

Win — Lane Johnson returns just in time to keep Nick Foles upright against a staunch Rams defensive line. In a second half rout, Brandon Boykin picks off Shaun Hill and takes it to the house while Mark Sanchez gives a troll wave to Jeff Fisher on the opposing sideline. The Eagles are 4-1, their best start to a season since 2006.

Giants Logo

Win — The Giants are better than folks think and make this one tough, but Foles makes a play in the fourth quarter that Eli Manning can no longer make. The Eagles escape on Sunday Night football and open up a three game lead in the NFC East heading into their bye week.

Cardinals Logo

Loss — The Cardinals have given the Eagles fits over the past half decade and enact some revenge from last year where the Eagles may have kept them out of the playoffs. The offense finds its groove in the fourth quarter but leaves the desert with a loss.

Texans Logo

Win — Kelly vs. Bill O’Brien. Blink and risk missing an entire series J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney each sack Nick Foles once, but the Eagles win by 10 points on the road, sitting pretty at 6-2.

Panthers Logo

Win — The third Monday Night game at the Linc between these teams since 2006. With the Eagles clinging to a 28-24 lead late in the fourth quarter, Malcolm Jenkins pays homage to Lito Sheppard and intercepts a Cam Newton throw to the end zone.

Packers Logo

Loss — The defense comes in feeling good about itself, but Aaron Rodgers picks them apart. Foles keeps up most of the way, but Green Bay has too much firepower and outlasts the Eagles 31-27.

Titans

Win — The birds return home angry after the Packers game, and an overmatched Titans squad is the victim of their frustration. Jordan Matthews has a big coming out party, and the birds roll comfortably.

Cowboys Logo

Win — It is a happy Turkey Day in Jerry World for the visiting Eagles. Tony Romo keeps the Cowboys in it for a half, but Chip Kelly’s squad beats an awful Cowboys defense into submission by the time the third quarter ends. McCoy goes for 160 yards on the ground as the birds reach nine wins. Perhaps we get another GIF similar to this, (H/T @CrossingBroad)

Jerry Jones GIF

Seahawks Logo

Loss — Kelly has a few extra days to prepare for a visit from the defending Super Bowl champions, but talent wins out as Seattle gains a stranglehold on homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Eagles defense rises up and keeps them in the game, but the offense never completely gets on track as the Seahawks send a raucous Lincoln Financial Field crowd home disappointed with a 24-16 win.

Cowboys Logo

Win — The Eagles treat a Sunday Night national audience to a show, snapping their two-year home losing streak to the Cowboys and clinching the NFC East in the process with a 38-10 romp. The loss all but seals Jason Garrett’s fate as Dallas falls to 5-9 in a miserable season. The three-year streak of 8-8 mediocrity is over as the bottoming out begins.

Redskins Logo

Win — The Eagles start slow in Washington, but a long touchdown pass from Foles to Jeremy Maclin right before halftime wakes them up. The second half is sloppy, but Cody Parkey hits a 35-yarder with no time left to win it 23-20. The Eagles secure the number two seed as the Skins’ hope of finishing 8-8 in Jay Gruden’s first year fades away.

Giants Logo

Loss — Neither team has a ton to play for. The Eagles already know their playoff positioning, and the Giants are already eliminated. Tom Coughlin goes out on a high note, denying the Eagles a perfect 6-0 record in the division with a 26-23 win.

This puts the Eagles at 11-5 and gives them a bye on wildcard weekend for the first time since 2004 when they went to the Super Bowl.

In my season predictions for all 32 teams, I have the Eagles getting revenge against the Saints at home before succumbing to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

We can discuss this more over the next couple of days and throughout the beginning portion of the season. I believe the Eagles are going to be very good but are in need of another offseason to address the defense before they can take out the Seahawks.

The unit was better last year than many people realize, but it has not yet shown me it could win a road playoff game against that type of team. Should this actually end up being the NFC Championship Game, I may change my tune once there is 18 games of film and data on each team, but for as much as I want to go all in and say see you in Glendale, I think the Seahawks win that contest right now.

An NFC Championship appearance in Year 2 under Kelly would be nothing to scoff at though. It would mean that in two years he turned a 4-12 mess into a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy.

In an ideal world, the Eagles get one this season before Foles’ well-deserved payday, but the window of opportunity will still be very much open.

There you have it. 11-5, a second straight NFC East title, a home playoff victory, and an appearance in the final four. I want a ring, but this is a pretty good place to start.

What say you folks? Would love to hear your predictions before Sunday.

The Eagles are Playing Chicago (?) to Open the Preseason; That’s Weird and Awesome

Football is kinda back, and the Eagles are in the windy city to begin preseason play against the Chicago Bears at 8 p.m. tonight.

If the location and opponent catches anyone off guard, I feel you. When the game kicks off at Soldier Field, it will mark the first time the Eagles have played an exhibition game against an NFC opponent other than the Panthers in quite some time.

All three of the contests against the Panthers were at home, so it’s a bit weird to see the Eagles travel this far, but to be honest I like it.

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Patriots Steelers Raiders Ravens Steelers Patriots Jaguars Ravens Steelers Patriots
Ravens Ravens Browns Panthers Panthers Colts Bengals Steelers Patriots Panthers
Steelers Bengals Ravens Steelers Patriots Jaguars Chiefs Browns Browns Jaguars
Jets Jets Steelers Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets
Jets

The birds won’t see the Bears this season unless the two squads meet in the playoffs, and this is a nice change of pace instead of seeing the Browns or Jaguars.

The Bears were one of only three teams to outscore the Eagles last season and the only team in the NFC to accomplish the feat. I have no idea how long Marc Trestman plans on playing his starters, but seeing Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and co. should be a nice test for Billy Davis’ defense.

The final record from last season may read 8-8, but Chicago was seconds away from an NFC North division title and home playoff game. Then, Aaron Rodgers escaped a sack, everyone completely lost track of Randall Cobb, and the Bears, like the Cowboys would be a few hours later at the hands of the Eagles, watched their season conclude in heartbreaking fashion in their house with no playoffs.

Of course, the Bears could have made that finale against the Packers irrelevant had they simply defeated an Eagles team the week before with little to truly play for that night.

That may be my favorite part about seeing the Bears again in a meaningless game as it allows me to reminisce back to that magical late December night last winter.

That night was supposed to be relatively ‘meaningless’ for the Eagles. Win or lose, they would have to wait a week to punch their ticket to the Promised Land. A funny thing happened though — The Eagles made the game anything but meaningless for themselves and the folks in attendance — myself included, who had never before been able to experience the atmosphere of a Sunday Night NFL game.

Eagles Ticket

It was a complete ass-kicking from start to finish with an overmatched Bears team never standing a chance. Trent Cole sacked Jay Cutler on the game’s third play. Nick Foles found Riley Cooper in the back of the end zone seven plays later. Devin Hester then fumbled the kickoff, and before you could blink, it was 14-0, and then 21-0, and then 24-0.

The rout was on, and it was only just beginning. There was a safety, and then Cutler got pummeled some more, and a Brandon Boykin pick six.

With eight minutes remaining in the Bears’ misery and the Eagles leading 47-11 after Boykin took a Cutler pass 54 yards the other way, the young cornerback and Chip Kelly were displayed on the Lincoln Financial Field video boards mid-hug. New era indeed.

“Rock and Roll all Night” by Kiss blasted through the stadium, and fans who earlier that afternoon were bummed they would have to wait another week to win the division, went wild. Absorbing, the moment, it was hard to believe that less than two months ago the Eagles had been caught in an ugly stretch that saw their winless streak at home reach 10.

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to act at football games, but as the performance of the team slipped in 2011 and 2012, the place seemed to take on too much of a country club atmosphere.

Not on that night. For the first time in over three years, the Linc was happy again, and as Kiss faded out and anti-Cowboys chants reverberated around the stadium on a glorious December evening past 11 p.m. there wasn’t a person there who didn’t believe the division was ours and that there would be a playoff game back here two weeks later.

Even though we had to wait another week for the ultimate prize, that electric night brought us “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight,” and “We want Dallas.”

Even if this one is truly meaningless and in your house, it’s good to see you again so soon, Bears.

Chip GIF

Editor’s Note: I would like to produce some more serious and analytical #content when time permits. I realize there has been a mix of trolly, tongue-and-cheek, repetitive, and sentimental so far, but I promise you that when something an important topic is explored thoroughly, it will be done well. Here is a post I did on Nick Foles with a ton of data that you can check out (because you can never have too many Nick Foles think pieces)