Tag Archives: Nick Foles

‘I Love You, But I Don’t Ride With You No More’

Editor’s Note: Every year when the Eagles report for training camp, we publish a column. Sometimes said column discusses actual football matters, but in other instances it may offer a more high level or metaphorical look at the state of the franchise or where my head is at on things. This might be the best — and weirdest — one yet. 

“How the fuck is this happening?”, you say to yourself as your hand bangs once more on the worn-down steering wheel.

You turn the keys again in a last-ditch effort. The engine whimpers softly but still won’t start. “Son of a bitch, am I really gonna have to Uber from San Francisco to Philadelphia? Is that even possible? What driver would accept that?” you mutter in a concerned voice.

What a difference a calendar year makes.

Let’s step back for a second.

This is typically the time of year where your annual road trip begins. You remember — the one where you rode shotgun with Chip in the driver’s seat. The glory days of 2013 where Nick jumped in the car and navigated you through some initial traffic. You were flying, faster than nearly all of the competition. Chip drove with this aura of confidence you hadn’t seen in years. He was out of control and simultaneously in complete control.

There was that magical night in Dallas where the three of you stayed up late celebrating a division title, blasting the fight song while doing laps around Jerry World. Six days later, the trip ended, a little shorter than it should have, but you knew that you were bound for greatness.

2014 was supposed to be even better until your muffler broke halfway through the season. You tried to replace it, but it wasn’t the same. Your rivals caught you down the stretch and celebrated what was yours the year before.

This bothered Chip to no end. He was dead set on making sure it never happened again but went about it completely the wrong way. Last year’s trip never stood much of a chance. There was the early fender-bender in Atlanta. Then a pit stop at home where Chip looked asleep at the wheel.

All the while, you hopped back in the passenger seat of the car every week desperately wanting to believe that it — whatever it was — would click.

Then the crash happened, and holy shit was it a fiery one. It was so bad that Chip had to leave town and moved across the country.

No more road trips speeding by the police. No more no-huddle offenses.

You never really got to say goodbye, and that’s what led you to embark on your own cross-country drive. A chance to get the closure that you desperately need.

It was a lonely journey. It’s different flying solo, but you made it.

‘People weren’t lying. San Francisco looks pretty damn cool,’ you think to yourself as you hit the brakes with a traffic light approaching. Chip was never good with the brakes. You always thought that if he could do away with rear-view mirrors, he would have. They weren’t a safety device to Chip but rather a symbol of inefficiency.

That is, until several other cars have passed you, and there’s no one to stare back at anymore.

‘Damn, the Golden Gate bridge is beautiful,’ you say as you lock the door and make your way over to Chip’s car. Your moment of marvel at the scenery of a different city is quickly interrupted.

“Why are we meeting like this?” Chip says to you, not making eye contact as you make your way into the passenger seat.

He was never the best at impromptu greetings.

You had rehearsed your opening line probably 272 times throughout the drive. There was even that awkward moment where you accidentally said it to a Burger King drive-through employee, and she looked pretty confused when you told her that you were breaking up with her.

You thought you were ready, but it turns out, you’re not so you try making small talk.

“So this is your new car after the crash, huh? How’s Marissa doing at Tennessee? Do you two still text? I know it was impossible, but I told you at the beginning of last year’s trip that we should have gone and saw her. Imagine how different things would be.”

Chip is now irritated. “This is a completely inefficient use of my time. What do you want?” he says now raising his voice.

“I…I…I…I…drove out here to tell you that I’m breaki…”

Chip cuts you off. ‘I was so damn close’ you say in your head. Dammit, Chip.

“I know exactly why you’re here. You’re here because you sense something wrong with how NFL football has been coached for years now. The old-school methods, the slow and plodding offenses. The elongated play calls.”

“Yes but no,” you chime back in. “I’m here to tell you that I’m breaking u…,”

Chip goes to cuts you off again. He was also never good about letting people talk during press conferences.

“You’re here because you believed that I was different. You believed that we could do something great together, and you’re here, you’re here, because you miss me. You never asked for me to be fired. You miss me.”

“Of course I miss you,” you respond. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

You take a deep breath.

“I’m here to tell you that I’m breaking up wit…”

“Sorry, hang on a second,” Chip says as he reaches for his phone.

“Broncos calling asking about Colin,” Chip says to you.

“Okay,” you say back, visibly frustrated now.

“Now where were we?” Chip responds.

You decide you need to take a different approach this time.

“Chip, do you realize what you could have had? You could have had the entire city eating out of the palm of your hand. Everyone wanted to love you, and those who didn’t were fucking stupid. You were going to win a Super Bowl, multiple Super Bowls, and you threw all of that away last offseason.”

“I would do it again,” Kelly snaps back. “I was trying to win.”

“And you lost a lot more than just games,” you quip back. “You blew up a good team. A team that won you the NFC East in your first year and gave you much of the clout that you had.

“You guys are ridiculous. You act like I got rid of a bunch of Super Bowl champions.”

This isn’t going quite as well as you had hoped.

“DeSean. LeSean. Jeremy. Nick. Do you realize what those guys meant to this team and this city?”

Chip doesn’t begin talking, so you jump in again.

“They were some of my really good friends. I trusted you with them.”

“Your good friends haven’t won a playoff game since 2008,” Chip says.

Remember that part about not making eye contact when you got in the car? Yeah, that’s no longer a thing. He’s now staring directly through you — pupils locked in a death stare.

This part you were ready for. In fact, you were hoping it would happen so you could use it.

“Your best friend Sam has never played in a playoff game and never will.”

If there was an audience watching as opposed to this being a private conversation, they might respond with an “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH.”

That was the ultimate zinger. You were waiting to throw it for months, and Chip put it up on a tee for you.

He’s now rattled. You’re still not used to Chip being rattled even though you started to see it more and more late last year when you guys would hit bad traffic and Chip’s old tricks couldn’t find the shortcut any longer.

He’s still quiet.

“You fucked me. I believed in you. I stood up for you so many times, and you fucked me. You fucked me.”

You’re in a groove now. It’s time.

“And that’s why I drove here to tell you that I’m breaking up with y…”

“You want a smoothie? San Francisco has really good smoothies. We should get one,” Chip nonchalantly asks.

“No, Chip, I don’t want a fucking smoothie. See, this is the problem. You’ve evidently learned nothing from your mistakes. I was hoping you would, but you don’t listen to anyone. You’re getting in your own way constantly. You could be one of the greatest innovators the NFL has ever seen, and it won’t work if you keep doing this.”

You’ve now stepped out of the car. Darkness has fallen on this summer night in San Francisco. You used to like looking up at the sky on your trips when Chip would speed through the night, dreaming about what you could accomplish.

Nick was always quiet but would nod his head to the music in the backseat. No words needed to be spoken. The mission was clear. What you wouldn’t do to have those days back.

The touchdown passes. The fourth-quarter comebacks. Cranking the music even louder as Chip sped past another driver and left them in a dust while that cop car didn’t move.

You snap out of your moment of nostalgia and lock eyes with Chip once again, as you’re now both standing on opposite sides of the car.

You close your eyes for a second that feels like an eternity. Now you’re ready. Nothing can stop you as they flash open and your lips start to move.

“I’m breaking up with you.”

There it is.

Chip hasn’t reacted yet.

“I’m going back to Philadelphia. Long drive home and camp starts soon. Season will be here before we know it. Good luck, Chip.”

You begin walking back to your car. Chip follows closely behind you. You press your remote to unlock the door, but it doesn’t work. The second time it does, but the extra time let Chip get even closer. He’s not saying anything, but it’s almost as if he knows something you don’t.

You turn the key in the ignition, but nothing happens. Again. Nothing. Again. There’s that whimper, but it quickly fizzles out.

You knew this wouldn’t be easy. After all, the crash last year didn’t impact just Chip. There’s a mess for you to clean up too.

How the tables have turned. Brimming with confidence the minute prior, you’re now the one stressed again, and Chip sees this as his opportunity.

“Why don’t you stay?” he says.

“What are you talking about, Chip?”

“You know. Stay — in San Francisco. Spend the season with me.”

Now you’re really confused. ‘Didn’t I just tell him that I was breaking up with him. I did say that out loud, right?’

“Come on. I know you rooted for Nick in St. Louis last year. Plus, you don’t think you guys are actually gonna be any good without me, right? I left that offense in shambles.”

“Chip, I won’t do that. I grew up an Eagles fan, I’ve always been an Eagles fan, I’ll die an Eagles fan. I’m going back home — whether this car comes back with me or not.”

You pull out your phone. Outside of the sound of a dog barking in the distance, it’s dead silent.

“Uber will be here in seven minutes,” you casually say to Chip.

Your driver’s name is Ben. He’s wearing a Giants hat in his picture but comes with a 4.9 rating. At this point, it’s hard to be picky. Chip was your guy, and it will be difficult to give your heart away to another driver just like that.

Ben’s now two minutes away. Hopefully this will be easy.

You put your phone away for a second to look up at Chip one more time — examining your former hero who you still have feelings for deep down. This is it. This is really goodbye.

You look down at it again and can’t believe what you see. Ben cancelled. He’s picking up another rider.

You figured it was a long shot to make him travel that far but dammit, he looked like a good driver. Now Tom is on the way. Tom is old in his picture — Like old enough to be your great-grandfather old, but he has a 5.0 rating.

You hold the screen up and wave it at Chip. He breaks his nine minute silence.

“Tom, really? Didn’t I used to leave Tom in the dust on our trips together? You’re gonna get in a car with him?”

You don’t have time to answer because Tom cancels too. Still holding the screen towards him, Chip sees another person turn you down and smirks.

Is the third time a charm?

The app feels like it’s taking forever, the requesting screen processing and processing, but no drivers showing up.

‘Stay calm,’ you say to yourself. ‘We’ll figure it out.’

All of a sudden your phone vibrates, but something looks weird. You have a driver on the way. His name is Doug,. He doesn’t even have a rating, but he’s only a minute away.

“You sure you don’t want to cancel this trip and stay?” Chip tries once more.

He’s relentless. Tears begin streaming down your face. There’s still a few seconds left to cancel. You’re not good at saying goodbye even in situations like this.

Car lights flash in the distance. Doug drives a Lincoln Town Car. Talk about a boring car. This 45-hour drive home is going to suck.

At this point, the tears have intensified some as the car inches closer.

“Bye Chip.”

You do a quick check of the license plate and open the door to the backseat without saying anything. The backseat — this is different. Chip’s looking at you as you cry, nearly 3,000 miles from home.

Doug begins driving, and you stare back at Chip and your car for as long as you can, until it’s become physically impossible to tell that anyone or anything was there in the distance if you didn’t know better.

Doug looks like he’s about to say something. ‘Please no. Please don’t try to talk to me right now,’ you beg to yourself.

“Hey man,” he says turning around as he reaches a stoplight and pulls around to extend his hand.

‘Fuck.’

“Pleasure to have you in the car. I’m just so excited to be driving Uber. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the opportunity to have you as my first passenger. It’s just so awesome.”

You wipe a tear from your face and stare back at Doug, hoping he’ll take a hint. He doesn’t.

“You ever have Kansas City BBQ, man? My old boss, Andy — obsessed with it. I was thinking we stop on the way back if you’re up for it. My treat.

You don’t say anything.

“Of course if you’re not into it though, we don’t have to. Maybe it’s good if we don’t. Jeffrey and Howie will probably be upset at me for putting extra miles on the car now that I think about it.”

You’ve had enough.

“Hey man, not to be an asshole, but I just broke up with someone. I’m really not in the mood to talk right now. Just drive the damn car.”

Several hours have gone by where you’ve been asleep. It was never easy to sleep with Chip driving. He always wanted to go faster, but to your best knowledge, Doug hasn’t come close to an accident yet.

You wake up to unfamiliar sights. ‘Did I just see some exit sign for Mount Rushmore?’

“What’s going on?” you ask Doug.

“You didn’t seem too into the BBQ idea, but we gotta pick up another rider in North Dakota.”

“Whatever,” you say back. “I’m going back to sleep.”

Two hours later you’re awoken again as someone else gets in the car. He’s tall with red hair. So tall that you’re not sure how he’s going to sit in the backseat of Doug’s car for that long.

You’re in a little better mood now and if not taking the initiative to start one, at least willing to engage in a conversation.

You take a look at your phone and open up the app to figure out what’s going on.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 7.14.19 PM

“Hey man, I’m Carson. Where you headed?”

“Philadelphia,” you respond back. One-word isn’t much, but it’s progress.

“No way, me too,” he says. “You an Eagles fan by chance?”

“You could say that. What about you?”

“Well, I think I just became one,” Carson says. “I hear their fans are crazy. Super passionate. Is that true?”

‘Are you sure you’re ready to get into this?’ you ask yourself before answering.

“You bet, but the good ones are also reasonable. We care. There’s people who like to dismiss everything and mock the ones who care, retweeting stupid things on Twitter, acting as if life is meaningless. The good ones though, they’ll get on you, but if you show you want it even more than they do, they’ll also have your back.

“Hey man, that’s awesome,” Carson says. “I can’t wait to see it for myself. You into music by chance? Play any instruments?

“Played the trumpet for a couple years when I was younger. That’s pretty much it though. You? ”

“Lead guitar.”

Your mouth drops slightly, not having expected this. Carson takes your silence as an invitation to continue.

“There was this guy in my old band named Sam. Never played a sold out show in his life, and he thought he was better than me. I know I can beat him though.”

You want to say something back, but your phone buzzes.

“Hey man, you all good?” says Carson. “You seem a little distracted.”

You wait a few seconds to answer Carson, your face buried deep into your screen.

It’s Chip. He texted you. Of course he texted you.

There’s that sensation. Tears traveling through your inner-eyes, but you won’t cry this time.

Your finger shakes as you hit ‘Send.’ There it goes.

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Doug is cruising. It will get more difficult as he hits rush hour traffic, but things are calm for now. The first highway sign for Philadelphia appears.

“Yeah man, I’m all good,” you say back to Carson. “Let’s fucking go.”

10 Things I Think I Think

In the mood to write a little bit after that frustrating opener, and it’s been a month and a half since a 10 Things I Think I Think post.

Let’s hit it below with thoughts on Chip, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles, Cody Parkey, Billy Davis, beating the Cowboys at home, and more:

  1. Don’t hate Chip’s decision to try the field goal and take the one-point lead. Hate the way it was rushed and wish he would have used a timeout to gather more information. Talk to Dave Fipp about his range pregame, slow things down for a minute and go. Not saying it would have made the difference but with so little time on the clock, Parkey looked rushed and uncomfortable lining up.
  2. As I said, understand the call to kick the field goal, but there’s a weird trend of Chip going against his nature and getting super conservative in those situations. The Arizona game last year comes to mind immediately. This is still a team built on its offense, and it’s odd that the coach for one reason or another isn’t betting on his strengths there.
  3. Still have a ton of confidence in Parkey. My haters will have a field day if I’m wrong, but he was perfect from beyond 50 yards out last season. Way better than Alex Henery ever was or will be.
  4. Let’s talk quarterbacks, shall we? It’s going to be natural to compare Sam Bradford and Nick Foles as the season goes on with Foles winning Round 1. Both quarterbacks had the ball deep in their own territory late in the fourth quarter with their teams trailing. Foles engineered a game-tying touchdown drive and won in overtime because winning is what he does. Bradford threw a game-ending interception and lost, something that he knows a lot about since being in the NFL. People like to overrate quarterback ‘wins,’ pointing to examples such as Vince Young having a winning record as a starter, but unlike pitcher wins in baseball, there is no bullpen and less variables. Barring injury, the same quarterback plays the entire game and has the ball in his hands for nearly half of it. When only 16-games are being played as opposed to 162, the margin for error is slimmer. At some point it doesn’t matter how you win, but simply that you did. Bradford was hot, having only thrown two incompletions in the second half prior to the interception, but the end result was all too familiar. It’s unfair to say that Chip made the wrong decision after 60 minutes of football, but in order to be right, he’ll need two multiple-year trends of Bradford and Foles to reverse with only 15 games for it to happen.
  5. Given Billy Davis credit in the past but the more I watch, the more I get concerned. Not a bad defensive coordinator by any stretch, just not sure he’s a Super Bowl caliber one either.
  6. ‘Soft,’ ‘Overrated,’ ‘Bradley Fletcher,’ ‘Nnamdi.’ Byron Maxwell has been called a lot of mean things over the past day, deservedly so, but I wouldn’t make these conclusions based on one week. Julio Jones is really fucking good. That said, he’s probably lucky the Cowboys won’t have Dez Bryant on Sunday.
  7. Nelson Agholor — Great preseason, underwhelming actual debut. Nothing to worry about but hope the Eagles can get him more involved.
  8. I think Monday is the most I’ve ever seen the Eagles run a sweep play with their backs. Suppose that’s what happens when you don’t invest in guards and need an alternative to the inside zone read.
  9. Fair or not, Sunday is huge not just for this year’s team, but for Chip’s career. At some point, you need to beat the Cowboys at home. Andy Reid was very good about this early in his Eagles tenure. Chip hasn’t done it yet, and if he doesn’t do it this weekend, there will be folks who hope he doesn’t get another chance in 2016.
  10. It’s fun playing in a division where 50 percent of it is eliminated after Week 1. The Redskins and Giants are going nowhere. The Cowboys don’t have arguably the best receiver in the game and struggled on Sunday to beat a poorly coached Giants team. The sky isn’t falling, but it would be nice to see a rain cloud or two go away come 8 p.m. Sunday.

Countdown to Eagles Football — 41 Days: Is There a Quarterback Competition in Training Camp?

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first, second, and third parts can be found here, here, and here

The answer to the above question is yes, well, sort of.

The Eagles actually have two quarterback competitions taking place in training camp right now, but neither of them involve Mark Sanchez, a name you would expect to be mentioned in that realm.

Below are the two that we’re looking at here:

Matt Barkley vs. Tim Tebow 

These two will battle it out through the month of August to be the team’s third-string quarterback, but for better or for worse, Chip Kelly may already have his mind made up. Like most things with Kelly, we just don’t know what it is until a formal announcement is made and one of the players is released.

If Kelly is concerned about Sam Bradford and Sanchez suffering injuries that would force him to play a third signal-caller, he likely goes with the safer option in Barkley. If he trusts one of those two to stay heathy, then Tebow potentially has the upper-hand with the option of using him in certain sub-packages and two-point conversion attempts.

This brings us to the second quarterback competition, and the far more important one, because let’s face it, while backup quarterback can arguably be the second most important position on the team, you’re not seeing January if your third-stringer needs to play any significant amount of time.

Sam Bradford vs. Sam Bradford’s Health 

If Bradford makes it through August healthy, and he has survived the first four days, no small task given his injury history, he will enter the regular season as the starting quarterback. Something drastic like throwing three interceptions and struggling mightily to move the offense in a preseason game could prompt Kelly to give a bit more of an extended look at Sanchez, but the idea of an actual quarterback battle has been overblown.

While Kelly tried for as long as possible to insist one existed, it was always difficult to fathom. We mentioned resource allocation and asset management the other day, and that ties in here. Giving up Nick Foles, a future second round draft pick, and taking on a player owed 13 million dollars for him to carry a clipboard just isn’t good business.

Come September 14th in Atlanta, Bradford will be under center taking the first snap of the season from the shotgun formation.

If anything were to stop that from happening, it would be his knee before Sanchez’s arm.

Countdown to Eagles Football — 43 Days: How Did Chip Kelly Do in HIs First Offseason with Full Control of the Roster?

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first part can be found here

Unlike yesterday’s question, the answer to this one is a lot more complicated and significant in terms of determining both the Eagles short and long-term outlook.

When Chip Kelly demanded final say over all roster decisions thus removing Howie Roseman’s title and responsibilities as Genera Manager in early January, he did it with one motivation in mind:

To make personnel decisions that would help take the franchise from good to great. Despite back-to-back 10 win seasons and an NFC East title in 2013, Kelly made the determination that the Eagles were too much of a fringe playoff contender and not close enough to competing for a Super Bowl where a few roster tweaks could get them there. He needed something more.

The merits of Kelly’s estimation can certainly be argued. As a counterpoint to Kelly’s findings, the Eagles beat a Colts team on the road that won 11 games and advanced to the AFC Championship.

They hung with the then defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks on the scoreboard in December before succumbing to a 24-14 defeat but were thoroughly outplayed and beaten up throughout the game.

Perhaps the biggest game in favor of Kelly’s argument was the embarrassing 53-20 mid-November loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field where Kelly’s Eagles were outclassed by a Green Bay team that ended up being minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl over Seattle.

Regardless of how the determination was made, it happened, and Kelly set out to overhaul a roster that will have at least 10 new starters come September 14th in Atlanta.

After three wild trades, some controversial departures, several free-agent acquisitions, thousands of Marcus Mariota rumors and one surprisingly calm draft, how did Kelly do in his first offseason running the show?

On the surface, it appears Kelly made parts of the Eagles better. The addition of Kiko Alonso in the LeSean McCoy trade gives the Eagles their most talented inside linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter’s first stint in midnight green.

Whether or not DeMarco Murray can come close to repeating a career year in 2014 remains to be seen, but him and Ryan Mathews give the Eagles more running back depth while simultaneously weakening their biggest division rival.

Byron Maxwell is an instant upgrade in the secondary, one that was in desperate need of improvement when facing Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, and DeSean Jackson twice a year.

Rather than overpaying to retain the services of Jeremy Maclin, Kelly elected to go the cheaper route and attempt to replace him with rookie first round draft Nelson Agholor. Had the Eagles overpaid for Maclin, they may have been unable to afford a guy like Maxwell.

All of these moves on paper make sense. On the opposing side of things, Kelly did not do much to upgrade offensive line depth or talent at the safety position, two spots that are glaring question marks as the Eagles head into camp. Any injury to the likes of Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, or Malcolm Jenkins could spell doom for the birds rather quickly.

Then, there’s the biggest move of all. Kelly’s first offseason will largely be defined by the successes or failures of Sam Bradford in his system and Nick Foles in St. Louis. Kelly did not simply elect to swap quarterbacks with him getting the less accomplished one. He also surrendered a 2016 second round draft pick for the oft-injured Bradford who is scheduled to make 13 million dollars this season in the final year of his rookie contract while Foles is scheduled to make less than two million with the Rams.

The previous two sentences underscore the biggest question mark about Kelly as a GM. It is abundantly clear to anyone who has watched the Eagles over the past two seasons that the man can coach, and his ability to identify talent going back to his Oregon days is impressive.

The unknown lies in the asset management component of being a genera manager, something that can often be overlooked but essential in ensuring that the team is set up well for both the present and future.

Would a more experienced GM have been able to execute the Bradford-Foles trade without giving up the extra draft pick, something that maybe could have enticed the Titans more in an offer for Mariota. When Kelly signed Maxwell and Murray, was he bidding against himself in those negotiations and did he need to pay them as much as he did?

When Roseman had heavy influence in the draft, there are stories of Kelly overvaluing certain players like Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Taylor Hart, wanting to select them a round before most other teams would have, and having to be walked back by Roseman, assuring him that they would be available when they picked again.

Maybe veteran GM’s wouldn’t have the guts to do what Kelly is doing, and if Bradford stays healthy and turns into the franchise quarterback that the Rams once hoped he would be, no one will care very much about the lost second round pick.

Still, football players are not acquired in a vacuum. There is an opportunity cost, both present and future, to every decision made, and whether or not Kelly can master the asset and resource allocation part of the job remains to be seen.

As I have stated previously on Twitter and in 10 Things I Think I Think, I don’t believe Kelly’s offseason has the Eagles worse than the 2014 season, but there is a small fear that he rearranged chairs on the Titanic as opposed to strengthening the collective roster.

Ultimately the Eagles are in better shape with Kelly doing everything as opposed to Kelly coaching somewhere else and doing nothing at all. Time will tell whether he is as capable of a general manager as he is a coach.

The first seven months have sure been something

10 Things I Think I Think About the Philadelphia Eagles Heading into Training Camp

If you followed on Twitter earlier this morning, I shared ’10 Things I Think I Think’ about the Eagles as training camp gets underway.

While this isn’t considered part of our 44-day series, stuff like this is fun to do on occasion and will surface every now and then. Be it predictions or random thoughts, a post is a good way to expand on 140-character tidbits.

Below is our first edition of 2015:

  1. Cody Parkey is really good. It’s theoretically hard for a rookie to only miss four kicks and be even better in Year 2. He’s capable of it. Note: There isn’t much else to add here. It was clear that Parkey’s leg was tired toward the end of last year, never having been through a 16-game season before. Still, Parkey was 8-for-10 on field goals beyond 40 yards out while also consistently putting kickoffs in the end zone and should again set the bar high in Year 2.
  2. Marcus Smith is not. Odds may be against me, but I’ll stick to my prediction that he doesn’t make the 53-man roster out of training camp. Note: Most roster projections will have Smith on the team, but it’s less of a slam dunk than people think. Smith doesn’t play special teams, and while part of that can be chalked up to the unit being so good last year that they didn’t need the services of a rookie, there’s no room for the first-round disappointment if he doesn’t show major strides from a pass-rushing standpoint in camp.
  3. Nick Foles and Sam Bradford will both have good seasons, but I am much more confident in Foles having one than I am Bradford. Note: Foles, in what was perceived to be a ‘poor’ season last year before getting hurt in early November, was still more productive than Bradford has been in some of his better seasons. A lot of excuses have been made for Bradford, and some of them, including a lack of skill position talent around him and a poor offensive line, hold water, but many assumptions have also been made about a career year in a quarterback friendly system that are less than a guarantee.
  4. Re-signing Brandon Graham was probably the correct decision, but I am concerned about how he holds up in a full-time starter role. Note: Graham, to his credit, has shed the ‘bust’ label that was stuck on him early in his career but has still never played more than 43% of a team’s total snaps during the season. The goal of free agency and player personnel decisions is ultimately to pay more for what you think you can get in the future and less so what you got in the past, and that’s what the Eagles did here. Let’s hope it was a wise investment.
  5. If Graham can play, this is the best Eagles front-7 since early Jim Johnson days, and it has the potential to be even better than that. Note: Kiko Alonso has a chance to be the best Eagles linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter’s first stint here. Consistency is a question, but this unit should be a major strength.
  6. Vinny Curry will be extra hungry this season, and if he puts his napkin on his lap, Billy Davis might even let him have a second dessert. Note: After playing sparingly as a rookie during the 2012 season, Curry has improved year-by-year, first with four sacks in 2013 and then reaching nine last year to go with four forced fumbles in an increased role on the defensive line. Bet your friend that he gets double digits this year and thank me in mid-December.
  7. There’s two NFL coaches I would take over Chip Kelly, and both coached in the Super Bowl last year. Could make a case for Harbaugh/Tomlin too. Note: Considering 15 other coaches have won playoff games and Kelly hasn’t, folks could certainly have a bone to pick with this one. Still, I think there are some who if starting a team right now would take Kelly as their coach in a heartbeat. Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, by the way, won a combined 29 games in their first two seasons as NFL coaches. Kelly, by himself, has won 20 after taking over a 4-12 squad.
  8. The Eagles opener scares the shit out of me. They have really struggled against Dallas at home. Lose to Atlanta, and you’re looking at 0-2.  Note: The Eagles are 2-0 in season openers under Kelly, although last year’s was certainly far from perfect with the 17-0 halftime deficit to the Jaguars. Hopefully the record stays unblemished as playing a division opponent on short rest who you can’t beat at home recently would be a scary task.
  9. Nelson Agholor will have a better rookie season than Jordan Matthews did last year, and concern about wide receiver depth is overblown. Note: We’ll get more into this during our series. Coop Dawgy is not good and ideally will lose playing time rather quickly, but the rookie from USC should ease the pain of Jeremy Maclin’s departure.
  10. I don’t know if the Eagles are better than last season, but I’m semi-confident they’re not worse, and for the time being, that’s alright. Note: Part of me is worried that Kelly reshuffled chairs on the Titanic as opposed to ultimately strengthening a roster that needed strengthening, but I don’t believe he made them worse. That, all things considered, is not an awful situation in early August.

We Give a Damn About the Drama That YOU Do Bring: An Introduction to Our Eagles Training Camp Series and a Request for YOUR Questions

Beginning Sunday morning and continuing through September 14 leading up to the Week 1 Monday Night opener against the Atlanta Falcons, we’ll be answering an Eagles question on the blog each day as we countdown from Day 1 of training camp to the start of the regular season.

That’s right, the announcement of a series that we not so subtly teased the other day has arrived.

There will be content every day, and the best part is that YOU get to have a say in what it is because we give a damn about the drama that YOU do bring.

Should you continue reading, you will hear the phrase ‘we give a damn about the drama that you do bring’ a few additional times. Those words, and more so, the idea behind it is near and dear to my heart when it comes to writing and interacting with people on the Internet.

When I began to get deeper into writing about sports during my college career, one particular thing about the industry and some of the people in it bothered me above all. I felt as if they took their readers for granted, looking down upon them, insulted that someone would dare disagree with their opinion or leave a critical remark in a comments section.

Interacting with their readers was a chore rather than something that should have been a fun part of the job, and what could have been an intelligent sports conversation with opposing viewpoints turned into a writer belittling a reader, under the false impression that ‘you need me more than I need you’ as opposed to being appreciative of readers, the primary reason that someone has deemed what you do worthy of being compensated in some way.

What others saw a hinderance, I saw a competitive advantage. I would respond to all of my Twitter mentions, even those who disagreed with me on certain things, and would try to go into the comments section of my articles and interact with readers. I was no better than the people leaving the comments. I worked hard and just happened to be given a platform where people read what I had to say, and I appreciated them taking the time to pay attention to my content and wanted them to know that they were indeed valued.

Websites, blogs, even traditional newspapers that exist in an online format are nothing without their community.

I had a few haters who I was never going to win over and subscribed to the idea that if a couple people didn’t dislike you, you were doing something wrong, but I was always up for a discussion should they have ever had the courage to engage me.

These thoughts should come with a couple caveats. First off, not everyone who writes about sports is an arrogant prick. There are plenty of writers out there who do make it a point to appreciate their audience and approach interactions with an open mind. Second, there are a good number of folks who are still finding success for the time being while looking down upon the role of their readers.

I think and hope that it will begin to evaporate as more options are presented to readers and the importance of social media continues to expand, but it has not fully done so yet to completely remove people with that smug attitude from positions of power.

Back to the project at hand, I certainly have some questions made up already. I love talking to myself and could get to 44 if need be, but I would much prefer some come from the readers because we give a damn about the drama that you do bring.

From high level stuff like how long I think Chip Kelly will remain the Eagles coach to more nitty-gritty inquiries like how much the third down defense can improve from last season with a revamped secondary, we’ll pose compelling questions and attempt to give you quality answers day in and day out that state an opinion and subsequently drive conversation.

For a general idea of what to expect, the initial few posts will focus on Kelly as he enters Year 3 with the Eagles fresh off a wild offseason, his first with absolute power. From there, we’ll transition into certain team questions about different position groups, key players, run-pass ratio (I’m a sucker for a good run-pass ratio story), and more.

We’ll also have some fun along the way. We’re gonna play oddsmakers and break down the favorites to be the new whipping boy of Slap Bet’s crew with Nick Foles now in St. Louis. We’ll wax poetic about Huff Daddy’s kick return touchdown against Tennessee that had a 1 p.m. Lincoln Financial Field crowd going crazy and some of the other unforgettable moments of what looked like a memorable 2014 season before it was derailed in December.

We should probably allocate some time to talk about Sam Bradford (and maybe Mark Sanchez too), because ya know, quarterback is a pretty important position after all. Other than that, the direction of the 44-day project is very much up to you.

I have done a very similar series when I covered Penn State football (below is a screenshot of what posts will generally look like if you replace the subject matter with Eagles stuff), but I want to put more power in the hands of the readers.

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For those who want to join us on Sunday morning, here is how the specific launch will go down from a timing standpoint:

10 a.m. 11 a.m: Over the course of this hour, we will send 10 total tweets in a segment I call ’10 Things I Think I Think’ about the Philadelphia Eagles headed into training camp.

11 a.m: We will publish a blog post that features these 10 tweets and expands on them.

11:10 a.m. — In addition to 10 Things I Think I Think, our series will be off and running as we answer the first of 44 questions.

We’re ready, but we want YOU to drive the conversation. Pick a question. Hit us up on the Twitter machine (@drewBbalis) or drop a line in the comments. As long as it’s appropriate, we’ll fit it into the series because…cue it

WE GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE DRAMA THAT YOU DO BRING.

An Early Chance to Exorcise Dallas Demons

Reactionary posts to the NFL schedule being released normally aren’t my thing.

There are a bunch of folks feverishly playing win-loss with the schedule not yet even two hours old and meaningful football still nearly five months away. I have always maintained that I don’t go on the record with predictions until the conclusion of the final preseason game. Why do so now when you have even more information at your disposal on Labor Day Weekend?

Despite the opening sentence here and aforementioned paragraph, I thought this would be a good time to emerge and update this blog for the first time since the fateful day in January when Chip Kelly gave several Eagles fans mini heart attacks before winning a power struggle against Howie Roseman.

I’m doing this because I deemed it necessary when I checked my phone at 8 p.m. and my eyes gravitated towards the following:

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That’s a home opener against Dallas — The first such occurrence since the 2002 season, and the earliest the teams have played since 2008.

From an emotional standpoint, it’s exciting. From a football standpoint, it’s scary. It’s scary because the Eagles have a disturbing recent trend that I don’t believe is addressed nearly enough:

They can’t beat Dallas at home.

Dallas has escaped Lincoln Financial Field with victories in three consecutive seasons. Go back all the way to 2007, and the Eagles have only held serve at home against their arch rivals twice. The average margin of victory in the past three Cowboys victories is 13.3. In other words, it hasn’t been that close.

It set the Cowboys up to win the division back in 2009 and did the same last December, this time keeping the Eagles out of the playoffs altogether. Had the Eagles won on that miserable Sunday night, they would have essentially had the NFC East wrapped up with two weeks to play. Instead, they lost their grip on the division and playoff positioning.

Had the Eagles repeated their Thanksgiving day performance and won a game that many expected them to, who knows what might have happened. Nick Foles might still be the Eagles quarterback — or maybe Mark Sanchez. Kelly, with a playoff team for two straight seasons, may never have felt the need to march into Jeffrey Lurie’s office and demand more power. Maybe LeSean McCoy would still be in midnight green and DeMarco Murray still in Dallas.

No one knows.

What we do know is that the Eagles have struggled on their home turf recently against their biggest competition for the division crown.

Week 2 presents a chance to end a losing streak that spans four seasons, three quarterbacks, and two head coaches. Given the wild offseason that could get even more crazy next Thursday, the football world will be quick to judge how the Eagles look coming out of the gate.

It’s only one game, but it sure is symbolic, and it could determine how much games a few months down the road matter.

Other Random Schedule Thoughts:

  • The Eagles are 6-2 in primetime under Chip Kelly. No qualms about opening on Monday Night in Atlanta.
  • Speaking of one of those two losses, if there’s a random game I want to win, it’s the contest against the Saints at home stemming from the playoff loss in January 2014. A faction of Eagles Twitter who never liked Nick Foles has mockingly labeled it the ‘Foles left the field with a lead’ game. After outplaying Drew Brees and leading a nice fourth quarter comeback to put the Eagles in the lead before a raucous home crowd, Foles and the Eagles offense stood on the sideline while the Saints ended their season on a field-goal at the gun. I sometimes randomly wake up in the middle of the night thinking about that game and what could have been for both Foles and the Eagles. There’s a score to settle.
  • If I had to pick an early trap game, it’s potentially Tampa Bay. It’s not that I think they’ll be good, but it’s sandwiched between a couple tough opponents and an easy chance to be looking ahead.
  • Love that there’s a bye before the second Dallas game in early November.
  • Love even more that we’re turning up on Turkey Day again, this time in Detroit.
  • While it didn’t help against Seattle last season following a mini bye after Thanksgiving, a few extra prep days for the Patriots certainly cannot hurt.