Tag Archives: Pete Carroll

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.
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Sad Eagles-Seahawks Haiku

When I used to cover Penn State, I found that a few of my better game stories came after emotional losses. They were a team playing with nothing to lose. Victories were fun, but defeats were — for me at least — easy to shake off given the situation they were facing.

Unfortunately, the Eagles — my first love — produce different emotions, and trying to throw something together about that game is proving to be difficult.

Ten days ago, it felt like the Eagles were on top of the world. and the defending Super Bowl champions sent them crashing back down to earth. Thanks to a muffed punt and some gutsy play-calling by Chip Kelly, the Eagles took a 7-0 lead.

The euphoric feeling quickly evaporated though as they would only score seven more points throughout the day as Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things en route to 24 for the Seahawks.

Some less than stellar officiating may have helped them get to 24, but the Eagles were so thoroughly dominated on the stat sheet that I don’t feel I can devote a ton of space to bashing officials without pointing out the lopsided numbers.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 8.32.35 PM

Not pictured in that screenshot is that Doug Baldwin, a rather pedestrian wide receiver, had more receiving yards than the entire Eagles team. After playing an efficient game in Dallas, Mark Sanchez never truly looked comfortable.

This was the lowest point total for the Eagles in a game since their last regular season home loss — against the Giants on October 27 last year — and it may have been the most out of sync the offense has looked since then, save for maybe the 49ers game earlier this season.

The Eagles were outplayed in a lot of areas and shown how far their quarterback and secondary play still needs to progress before they can hang with the Seahawks, and yet there are some plays and moments where it’s hard not to wonder ‘What if?’

The ineligible Seahawks lineman downfield on their first touchdown drive that wasn’t called, the ill-advised timeout with a minute remaining in the second quarter, the pass that sailed through the hands of Zach Ertz early in the fourth quarter, and last but certainly not least, the Malcolm Jenkins dropped interception later on in the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, the Eagles are EXACTLY where I expected them to be after 13 games of this season. What I did not expect is some other teams like the Cowboys and Lions to have the exact same record. The NFC playoff picture is really tight, and 9-4 doesn’t go as far as it may have in past seasons.

It is still very likely the Eagles find themselves in the NFC playoff field. It will be a near certainty should they beat Dallas again next Sunday, this time at the Linc where they are 6-1 on the season, but rather than playing for a complete division clinch and a potential inside track on a first round bye, both are a bit dicier than they would have been with a statement victory today.

Like most losses, today really sucked, but it wasn’t a death sentence, just a wake-up call, and we’ll all feel more awake after we beat Dallas at home on Sunday night next week.

Let’s hit the haiku, win the game next week, and check on the health of Nicky Foles.

Refs bad Sanchez worse

Outclassed by Russell Wilson

Trust Chip after loss

Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score when Eagles-Seahawks Concludes

Before the season, I predicted that the Eagles would head into today’s game with a 9-3 record and a 6-0 mark at home. And then I picked them to lose to the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, thinking Pete Carroll’s defense would be too much for them.

Well, sure enough, the Eagles enter this highly anticipated NFC showdown at 9-3 and undefeated at home, and the more I look at the matchup, the more I think they’re going to improve to 10-3 and 7-0 at home.

Even after holding both the Cardinals and 49ers to three points in back-to-back weeks, the Seahawks just don’t scare me that much away from CenturyLink Field. The Eagles have been lights out at the Linc this season, and I expect that to continue today.

Let’s hit the five numbers that I believe could help make it happen and hope to see in the box score as this one concludes:

  1. Less than 70 rushing yards for Marshawn Lynch — The Seahawks essentially run their offense through two players, Russell Wilson and Lynch. With Golden Tate in Detroit and Percy Harvin exiled to the Jets, that’s it. Contain them, and you win the game. Seattle is 3-3 this season in games where Lynch is held below 70 yards. They are 5-1 when he eclipses that mark. After holding the NFL’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray to a season low 73 yards on Thanksgiving, the Eagles front seven should be ready to go.
  2. At least one sack for Fletcher Cox — The third-year defensive end has a sack in three of his last four contests and had his formal coming out party in front of a national audience on Turkey Day with two tackles for loss to go with the sack. It really seems like Cox is coming into his own after battling consistency issues early on in his career. Dropping Russell Wilson one or more times today would be a great way to show that.
  3. Mark Sanchez completing at least 63 percent of his passes — After dealing with some accuracy issues and only completing 56.7 percent of his attempts against the Panthers and Seahawks, Sanchez has been on point over the past two contests going 50-for-72, equating to 69.4 percent. I don’t expect that today against the Seahawks secondary, but staying above the 60 percent mark will be key in keeping the offense moving in perhaps his toughest challenge to date.
  4. Darren Sproles returning a punt at least 20 yards — If the Eagles have a distinct advantage in one area today, it is special teams. I’m expecting an impact play from either Sproles or Huff Daddy, and ideally there will be way more Seahawks punts than Seahawks kickoffs.
  5. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — Reports of McCoy’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Eagles Pro Bowl running back has looked electric over his past two games, but the Titans and Cowboys front seven is no Seahawks. Running room will be tougher to come by today, but the Eagles are 5-1 this season when McCoy averages four or more yards per carry. Let’s make it 6-1 and push it to three straight games in a row over the century mark.

The Jeremy Maclin-Richard Sherman matchup gets an honorable mention and warrants watching as well obviously. I don’t expect Maclin to go for 150+ yards like he has three time prior this season, but he should be able to hold his own.

There you have it, folks. Seventy, one, 63, 20, four, and hopefully double digit wins and playing for a second consecutive NFC East title next Sunday night.

Fist pump away, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

Sunday Morning Haiku and Trying to Stomach Rooting for the Patriots

(Screenshot via NFL.com)

Morning, folks.

As you’re well aware, the Eagles do not play today following Thursday’s Thanksgiving beatdown of Dallas. If you need a break from Sunday stress, you have a one week respite.

If you’re anxious to get back at it like me, there are other games you can keep an eye on that will impact the jumbled playoff picture in the NFC.

The two games in particular to hone in on are the Falcons hosting the Cardinals at 4 p.m., and even more importantly, the Packers hosting the Patriots slated for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.

The Eagles currently lead the Packers by half a game, but the Packers of course have the tiebreaker over the birds after a blowout victory in Lambeau two weeks ago.

I actually think the Cardinals could lose a few more games. They have only scored 17 combined points in their past two games and have a tough stretch against the NFC West coming up.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.19.43 AM

The Packers on the other hand, have a pretty favorable schedule following their date with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick today.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.21.35 AM

The Eagles at some point need to get ahead of them by a game in order to avoid a potential January date in Lambeau, and the Patriots might be their way of doing it.

For a multitude of reasons, it is hard to root for the Patriots, but to make the Eagles path to the Super Bowl easier, that is the task today.

Enjoy today before Seahawks week, and a fantastic matchup between my favorite coach in sports (Chip Kelly) and my third favorite coach in sports (Pete Carroll).

Past history be damned. Root for the Patriots if you can stomach it, and don’t get too used to Sundays without Eagles football. Aside from a Week 16 Saturday game in D.C., we’ll hopefully be going all the way through the first day of February.

Let’s hit the haiku:

Super Bowl champs loom

As playoff picture takes shape

Go Patriots Go

Feeling Lucky: 2014-2015 NFL Predictions

The Seattle Seahawks will put a halt to a near-decade long streak, becoming the first team since the 2005 New England Patriots to win a playoff game coming off a Super Bowl title.

Pete Carroll’s squad will do more than just win one game in January though. They will once again represent the NFC in Glendale on February 1, 2015, but the Seahawks will not repeat as champions.

If you picked up on the subtle headline hint, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts will dethrone the Legion of Boom and hoist the Lombardi Trophy nearly five months from now.

Andrew Luck rises, Russell Wilson nearly does it again, Nick Foles takes another step forward, Colin Kaepernick takes a small step back, and Robert Griffin’s slide continues.

That and more as we predict team-by-team records and how the playoffs will play out below.

You can choose for yourself how much stock you put in my predictions. Last season, I did nail Seattle as my preseason Super Bowl champion but picked them to beat the Texans in the big game so…welp.

I cannot promise that I will be spot on. If I could, I might as well be in Vegas right now, but unlike hack Mike Freeman, I will try to hold myself accountable if they are embarrassingly bad.

Without further ado, let’s hit it.

NFC East

Eagles (11-5) (2)

Giants (8-8)

Redskins (6-10)

Cowboys (5-11)

Thoughts: It would be a big surprise if the Eagles do not win this semi-comfortably, and if things go according to plan, they will jump out to a quick one-game lead over everyone after this weekend. The Giants are not as bad as some seem to think but won’t be good enough to seriously challenge for a wildcard spot. Redskins and Cowboys bring up the rear in a relatively weak division.

NFC North 

Packers (10-6) (4)

Bears (9-7)

Vikings (8-8)

Lions (5-11)

Thoughts: The Seahawks can make just about an squad look bad, so I’m not reading into the Packers loss last night a ton. Aaron Rodgers hides a lot of their flaws, but they will once again find a way to take the division. The Bears come up just short again, the Vikings are a pleasant surprise, and the Lions remain the Lions.

NFC South

Saints (10-6) (3)

Bucs (8-8)

Panthers (8-8)

Falcons (7-9)

Thoughts: Always the toughest division to handicap. I think the Saints are a cut above the rest and expect Tampa Bay to be better now that they are free of the Greg Schiano experience. I love me some Kelvin Benjamin, but who else is Cam Newton throwing to outside of Greg Olsen? The Falcons get the honor of being the best last place team in the league.

NFC West

Seahawks (13-3) (1)

Cardinals (10-6) (5)

49ers (10-6) (6)

Rams (3-13)

Thoughts: It nearly happened last year, and this season it actually will — Three playoff teams out of the wild, wild west. Seattle avoids the Super Bowl hangover. I am no Bruce Arians fan, but that Cardinals team is solid. They beat out the 49ers, but Jim Harbaugh’s squad overcomes a rough start to grab the final playoff spot in the conference. The Rams win the Jameis Winston/Marcus Mariota sweepstakes.

AFC East

Patriots (11-5) (3)

Jets (8-8)

Dolphins (7-9)

Bills (4-12)

Thoughts: The more things change, the more things stay the same. The Pats roll once again while the Bills sit in the cellar. The Dolphins and Jets hang around but can’t quite crash the playoff party.

AFC North

Bengals (10-6) (4)

Ravens (8-8)

Steelers (7-9)

Browns (4-12)

Thoughts: Andy Dalton once again gets the Bengals to the playoffs and once again loses in the first round. The Ravens just miss for two straight years. I would have had the Steelers with another win or two a month ago, but they just looked awful in the preseason. Johnny Manziel gets the gig pretty early and Cleveland but makes numerous NFL front offices breathe a sigh of relief that they passed on him last May.

AFC South

Colts (12-4) (2)

Texans (9-7) (6)

Jaguars (5-11)

Titans (4-12)

Thoughts: The Colts have this thing clinched by Week 12 with the Jaguars and Titans as complete afterthoughts. Bill O’Brien works his quarterback magic and gets the Texans to the playoffs in Year 1.

AFC West

Broncos (13-3) (1)

Chargers (11-5) (5)

Chiefs (8-8)

Raiders (3-13)

Thoughts: The Broncos cruise to another division title as they play out the schedule hoping for redemption in the playoffs. Mike McCoy’s Chargers take another step forward while Andy Reid’s Chiefs take a slight step back. The Raiders remain the Raiders, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Playoffs: 

AFC Wildcard Weekend

Chargers over Bengals

Patriots over Texans

NFC Wildcard Weekend

Saints over 49ers

Cardinals over Packers

AFC Divisional Playoffs

Colts over Patriots

Broncos over Chargers

NFC Divisional Playoffs

Eagles over Saints

Seahawks over Cardinals

AFC Championship Game

Colts over Broncos

NFC Championship Game 

Seahawks over Eagles

Super Bowl

Colts over Seahawks

Would love to hear your predictions if you have any because FOOTBALL BACK

Chip GIF

I Believe That We Are Through

In the end, it all went according to plan. Leading up to the World Cup, the most likely scenario for the United States to survive the Group of Death was a victory over Ghana, a draw against Portugal, and a likely close loss to Germany thus relying on goal differential.

That’s exactly how things played out, and the U.S. took a pretty similar path back in 2002, riding a spot in the knockout stage to a dramatic 2-0 win over Mexico.

A few thoughts:

  • First off, explaining the meme used for this post — Michael Wilbon had a scorching take following Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to leave Landon Donovan off the World Cup roster. Suck it, Michael Wilbon.
  • The fact that the U.S. pulled this off without getting anything out of Jozy Altidore is damn impressive. Next Tuesday will be 15 days since the hamstring injury. Hopefully he’s ready to go.
  • Some people on Twitter seemed to celebrate when Ghana scored against Portugal to tie their game 1-1, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. Sure, a draw there would have gotten us through, but it also left the U.S. a kick away from being eliminated. We were much better off with Portugal up 1-0 than 1-1. I would have thought with how much the scenarios were pushed over the last few days, folks would have familiarized themselves with them, but evidently that wasn’t the case.
  • Thank you Cristiano Ronaldo for that goal. After helping Mexico get to the World Cup and keeping Portugal alive on Sunday, it was time someone helped us. Portugal realistically knew they were going to be eliminated but did the job anyway.
  • Would have to see the game again to verify this (sometimes #analysis becomes difficult when watching in a bar), but Clint Dempsey just looks gassed. Hopefully the time off between now and Tuesday does him some good.
  • Tim Howard’s playing out of his mind, well enough to keep the Americans in a game against Belgium. Aside from maybe pushing the ball wide instead of straight on the save before Germany’s goal, I’m not sure what else he could have done. Love you, Timmy.
  • It’s official — Jurgen Klinsmann, third favorite coach in sports. Not passing Chip Kelly but win a couple more games, and he might jump ahead of Pete Carroll.

Tuesday ought to be fun. Let’s do it.

Jurgen GIF

An Unfulfilling but Kinda Fun Sports Sunday

Sports giveth and sports taketh away.

With a full slate of baseball, the NHL schedule release, and a United States World Cup match to top things off, yesterday was supposed to be enjoyable, and in many ways it was. Things just didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Surprising? Not really, but damn, I wouldn’t have minded sticking to the plan here.

Unlike every other blog post I’ve done, this one doesn’t really have a honed-in topic. I just hadn’t written anything here for a couple weeks and was in the mood to share some thoughts.

My three big concerns yesterday from a sports standpoint were the Phillies trying to complete a rather surprising 6-1 road trip, hockey, and of course, a pretty important soccer game.

Blog Post Tweet

This never happened. The Phillies blew a 3-0 lead and failed to finish off an impressive mini-stretch of games. Oh well. I may write a separate post about this at some point, but my stance from about a month ago remains the same. Nice to see them show some signs of life over the past week but still feels more like a mirage than any type of sustainable turnaround.

That’s alright though because while the Cardinals took command of that game, I had something else to look forward to. Normally, seeing the NHL schedule wouldn’t get my juices flowing too much, but this year, I had something specific to look forward to.

See, a month ago, I won a contest for tickets to a Penguins game next season.

Contest Winner

My friend and I had it all figured out. We were seeing Flyers-Pens in enemy territory. All we needed was a weekend game (preferably next spring when there was no football to watch).

I figured our chances were pretty good as I waited for the minutes to pass by leading up to 4 p.m. This is the type of Metropolitan Division matchup that you expect to see on NBC late in the season with Doc Emrick’s soothing voice narrating the action.

In the nine seasons since the 2004-2005 lockout, the scenario we wanted had unfolded every year, so history was on our side. I checked the Flyers website around 3:55 p.m. No dice, but the Penguins schedule had already been posted. My heart raced as I plugged “Flyers” into a Ctrl+F bar. A few seconds later, it sunk. The Flyers are only in Pittsburgh on two random Wednesday nights.

We still have some great games to choose from and are pumped to see Consol Energy Center for the first time, but damn, I thought that was pretty close to a slam dunk. Nope.

Eh whatever, almost time to watch the U.S. seal their spot in the knockout stage of the World Cup. Maybe I was running on an adrenaline high from last Monday, but in the days leading up to the match, I texted a few of my friends something along the lines of:

I just have this feeling we’re gonna crush Portugal. 

If we could have the first five minutes back, I think it might have happened too, but obviously it didn’t.  Everyone watched the game but just a few broader points

  • Holy shit, that shot from Jermaine Jones was something else. Even my mother who isn’t too into sports was going crazy, but now that I think about it, she did the same thing with Landon’s Algeria goal in 2010, so yeah, go Mom. The Univision call was also fantastic.
  • I realize I’m stating the obvious with this one and not adding much, but the final 20 seconds could not have been handled worse. If five USA players walked off the pitch, they might have been better off than what happened. Obviously Portugal is trying to score, but between the Bradley turnover, the time and space space given to Ronaldo, and three defenders losing track of Silvestre Varela, a breakdown on so many levels just can’t happen in this tournament.

Bradley Turnover 2

Well said, dude.

  • Is it over the top to say that Jurgen Klinsmann might be my third favorite coach in sports? Chip Kelly is one; Pete Carroll is second (I have a thing for former Pac-12 college football coaches). If this was written a few years ago, Mike Krzyzewski would have easily been three, but four years at Penn State kinda takes away your passion for Duke Basketball. I love what Klinsmann is doing, and it goes way beyond the effective substitutions. He has this team believing in itself, and right or wrong, he’s sticking up for them every chance he gets. (His accent is also delightful)

(via SB Nation)

Jurgen Quote

  • We are going to advance. In both 2002 and 2010, it took until the third set of group play, and the U.S. got through both times. Am I nervous? Sure, but I’d take our position over Ghana’s right now any day.

Unrelated to the game, but I’m not entirely sure what Dan Shaughnessy’s Boston Globe column about hating soccer was looking to accomplish. In general, this whole ‘my sport rules, your sport sucks’ argument is ancient and tiresome. It normally reaches a fever pitch on Twitter right around June when the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals are running simultaneously.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the NBA and professional basketball. I don’t appreciate a lot of the finer details, advanced statistics, and nuances of the game that I like to believe I notice in other sports. That said, there’s a ton of people who sleep well at night between late October and mid-June knowing that there will be NBA basketball the next day.

I don’t mean to come off as unicorn and rainbowy, but if people stopped taking pot shots at sports they dislike, I think we’d enjoy the ones we do like more.

**

On a quick non-sports note, today is the first day of camp at Southampton Summer Day Camp, a place I spent 14 years at as a camper and counselor. For my final two years, I was in charge of 20 third grade boys. I never thought that I would stay 14 years, but it became in many ways my second home.

Aside from visiting once, I haven’t been back in three summers. Unless you’re going to be a teacher, everyone moves on at some point, but I always get a little nostalgic when the first day comes around.

To those working now, you have 39 days to make an impact on a child’s life that can last way longer. Always remember why you’re there, and do it the right way.

**

Back to the core of this post though, parts of yesterday were awesome, and other parts really sucked, especially at 7:53 p.m. eastern time when a victory for the ages was snatched away. I suppose that’s life though. Things don’t always go according to plan.

If you somehow made it this far, thank you. It was fun rambling a bit.

It was more fun America-ing with all of you over the past week. We’re going to make it out of this “Group of Death.” We just have to wait four days.

#SeeYouThursday